Gawker Media, the online publisher ordered by a US court to pay $140m to former wrestler Hulk Hogan over the publication of a sex tape, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday and plans to put itself up for sale, Independent reports.
Image: Hulk Hogan.
The move will intensify public debate in the United States over the role of big money in media lawsuits.
Billionaire investor Peter Thiel, an early backer of Facebook and a co-founder of PayPal, had bankrolled Hogan’s lawsuit.
Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, is listed as the largest creditor in Gawker’s bankruptcy filing.
Media company Ziff Davis already has an agreement to buy Gawker for a little less than $100m, according to people familiar with the matter. However, a bankruptcy auction will ensue, likely at the end of July. If no other bidders step up with better offers, Ziff Davis will become Gawker’s new owner, the people said.
Ziff Davis, whose gaming and consumer technology websites include AskMen, Computer Shopper and Geek.com, would significantly expand its internet portfolio with the acquisition of Gawker, gaining websites such as Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Deadspin and Jezebel.
“There’s a tremendous fit between the two organisations, from brands to audience to monetization,” said a spokesman for Ziff Davis.
“We look forward to the possibility of adding these great brands – and the talented people who support them – to the Ziff Davis family.” Gawker said its assets are $50m to $100m, and liabilities between $100m and $500m.