What Happened to Gawker?

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Written By Angelo Sorbello

Tech entrepreneur and passionate about business



In the early 2000s, Gawker emerged as a prominent celebrity and media gossip blog, attracting millions of monthly visitors.

However, its trajectory took a fateful turn in 2016 when a lawsuit filed by Hulk Hogan resulted in a staggering $140 million in damages.

Unable to fulfill this financial obligation, Gawker was forced to file for bankruptcy and cease operations.

This article delves into the factors that led to Gawker's downfall, exploring the controversial lawsuit, secret funding, and subsequent acquisition.

Key Takeaways

  • Gawker was a popular celebrity and media gossip blog that had over 23 million monthly visitors at its peak in 2015.
  • Gawker's downfall was caused by the publication of a video of Hulk Hogan having sex without permission, which led to a lawsuit and ultimately bankruptcy.
  • Gawker was unable to pay the $140 million in damages awarded to Hulk Hogan, resulting in the end of its existence.
  • Univision acquired Gawker Media Group but decided not to revive the Gawker blog due to its controversial history and potential risks with advertisers.

Gawker's Bankruptcy and Cessation

Gawker's financial downfall had a significant impact on the media landscape, ultimately resulting in the termination of its operations. The catalyst for Gawker's bankruptcy was a lawsuit filed by Hulk Hogan, who was awarded $140 million in damages. Unable to meet this financial obligation, Gawker was forced to declare immediate bankruptcy.

The lawsuit was secretly funded by billionaire Peter Thiel, adding to the controversy surrounding Gawker's actions. In September 2016, Univision acquired Gawker Media Group for $135 million. However, due to Gawker's controversial history and potential risks with advertisers, Univision made the decision not to revive the Gawker blog, effectively marking the end of Gawker's existence.

This bankruptcy and cessation of operations had a lasting impact on the media landscape, highlighting the consequences of unethical behavior and the challenges faced by online media outlets.

Hulk Hogan Lawsuit and Funding

Gawker's downfall was precipitated by the publication of a video featuring Hulk Hogan engaging in sexual activity without his consent. Hogan sued Gawker for invasion of privacy and was awarded $140 million in damages. However, Gawker was unable to meet the financial obligation and declared immediate bankruptcy. What made this lawsuit particularly noteworthy was the secret funding provided by billionaire Peter Thiel, who had a personal vendetta against Gawker. Thiel's involvement added another layer of complexity to the case and raised questions about the ethics of using one's wealth to silence media outlets. This legal victory for Hogan, coupled with Thiel's financial intervention, ultimately led to Gawker's demise and marked a turning point in the battle between privacy rights and freedom of the press.

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Hulk Hogan's legal victory Peter Thiel's involvement
Hogan was awarded $140 million in damages Thiel secretly funded the lawsuit

Univision Acquisition and Decision

Following Gawker's bankruptcy, the next significant development in its story was the acquisition of Gawker Media Group by Univision for $135 million in September 2016. Univision, a leading media company targeting Hispanic audiences, made the strategic move to expand its digital presence and reach a broader audience.

However, Univision decided not to revive the controversial Gawker blog due to its history and potential risks with advertisers. The association with Gawker was considered too risky for Univision's relationship with advertisers, who may have been concerned about the negative publicity and potential backlash.

Gawker.com Purchase and Relaunch Attempts

After its acquisition by Univision, Gawker.com saw multiple attempts at relaunching the website, but all have been unsuccessful thus far. Despite the brand's notoriety, Bryan Goldberg, the owner of Bustle and Elite Daily, purchased Gawker.com and believed its controversial history could be leveraged as a strength. However, the relaunch strategies employed have not yielded positive results.

In April 2021, Bustle Media Group announced a Gawker relaunch with Leah Finnegan as editor-in-chief, but the website remains dormant. Reviving Gawker has proven to be a significant challenge. The controversial nature of the blog and its association with high-profile lawsuits, such as the Hulk Hogan case, have impacted its reputation and potential advertisers' willingness to align themselves with the brand.

As a result, Gawker.com continues to struggle to find a successful path forward.

Failed Attempts to Revive Gawker

Despite multiple attempts, Gawker's revival has been unsuccessful. The reasons for Gawker's relaunch attempts failing and the impact of its controversial history on its revival prospects are significant factors contributing to this outcome.

  • Lack of Trust: Gawker's controversial past, including the publication of the Hulk Hogan sex tape without permission, has severely damaged its reputation and credibility. This has made it difficult for potential investors and advertisers to trust the brand again.
  • Legal and Financial Constraints: Gawker's bankruptcy and the subsequent settlement with Hulk Hogan have left the brand with significant legal and financial burdens. These constraints have made it challenging to secure the necessary resources for a successful relaunch.
  • Advertiser Concerns: The association with Gawker's controversial history has made advertisers wary of aligning their brands with the platform. The potential risks of negative publicity and backlash from consumers have deterred advertisers from supporting the revival efforts.
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These challenges, combined with the tarnished reputation of Gawker, have hindered its revival attempts and kept the website dormant.

Key Takeaways on Gawker's Demise

The demise of Gawker can be attributed to various factors. One of these factors is its controversial history and the legal and financial constraints it faced. Gawker's impact on the media landscape was significant. It became a prominent platform for celebrity gossip and sensationalized stories. However, its downfall began with the publication of an incriminating video of Hulk Hogan without permission. This led to a lawsuit that resulted in $140 million in damages. Unable to meet this financial obligation, Gawker filed for bankruptcy.

Lessons learned from Gawker's downfall include the importance of ethical journalism practices and the potential consequences of publishing content without proper consent. Additionally, Gawker's controversial history and its association with risky content made it unattractive to potential investors and advertisers. This ultimately led to its demise.

Future Prospects for Gawker's Revival

With its controversial history and failed attempts at revival, Gawker's future prospects remain uncertain. Despite several relaunch attempts, the once-popular celebrity and media gossip blog has struggled to regain its former glory. As potential investors consider the risks associated with the brand, Gawker's revival hangs in the balance.

The impact of Gawker's potential return on the media landscape is also a significant consideration. Here are three key factors that contribute to the uncertainty surrounding Gawker's future prospects:

  1. Legal concerns: The fallout from the Hulk Hogan lawsuit and the subsequent bankruptcy filing has left a cloud of legal uncertainty over Gawker's revival. Potential investors must carefully evaluate the potential risks and liabilities associated with the brand.
  2. Brand reputation: Gawker's controversial past and perception of lacking moral integrity have damaged its brand reputation. Rebuilding trust and attracting advertisers will be challenging, further complicating its chances of a successful revival.
  3. Changing media landscape: The media landscape has evolved significantly since Gawker's heyday. The rise of social media and the changing attitudes towards privacy and online content may impact Gawker's ability to resonate with audiences and find a profitable niche.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Were the Other Individuals Involved in Incidents That Contributed to Gawker's Perception of Lacking Moral Integrity?

The individuals involved in incidents that contributed to Gawker's perception of lacking moral integrity were not specified in the given context. However, their actions, along with the publication of the Hulk Hogan video, played a role in shaping public perception and impacting online journalism ethics.

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How Did Univision's Acquisition of Gawker Media Group Affect the Staff?

Univision's acquisition of Gawker Media Group had a significant impact on the staff, as some were transferred to other ventures within Univision. However, the decision not to revive the Gawker blog affected the employees' career prospects in journalism.

What Were the Reasons Behind Univision's Decision Not to Revive the Gawker Blog?

Univision's decision not to revive the Gawker blog was influenced by its controversial history and potential risks with advertisers. The association with Gawker was deemed too risky for Univision's relationship with advertisers, ultimately leading to the blog's demise.

Who Is Bryan Goldberg and Why Did He See Potential in the Gawker Brand?

Bryan Goldberg, the owner of Bustle and Elite Daily, saw potential in the Gawker brand due to its notoriety. With his background and experience in digital media, Goldberg believed he could leverage Gawker's reputation for success.

Why Have the Previous Attempts to Relaunch Gawker.Com Been Unsuccessful?

The previous attempts to relaunch Gawker.com have been unsuccessful due to various factors. These factors may include challenges in rebuilding the brand's reputation, difficulties in attracting a loyal audience, and potential concerns from advertisers regarding the website's controversial history.


In conclusion, Gawker's downfall can be attributed to a combination of factors. Firstly, its bankruptcy following the Hulk Hogan lawsuit was a major blow to the company. The substantial damages awarded to Hogan left Gawker unable to recover financially. Secondly, the revelation of secret funding by Peter Thiel further undermined Gawker's credibility. Thiel's involvement, motivated by his personal grudge against the company, added to the public perception that Gawker was not a trustworthy source of news. Lastly, the decision by Univision not to revive the blog after purchasing Gawker's assets sealed its fate. Despite attempts to relaunch the website, Gawker.com remains dormant, symbolizing the end of an era in online journalism. The demise of Gawker serves as a cautionary tale for the media industry, highlighting the potential risks and consequences that media organizations may face in today's digital age.

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