Despite Bankruptcy, ‘Gawker Endures’

"[I]t's disturbing to live in a world in which a billionaire can bully journalists because he didn't like the coverage."

The line above was a sentence out of a letter sent to employees of Gawker Media, written by founder Nick Denton, who filed for bankruptcy in August 2016 following a multimillion-dollar court judgment against him.

It all started with former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan - a household name, at least in the 80s and 90s - and Hogan's sex tape. When Gawker published said tape, tech billionaire Peter Thiel had his apparently long-awaited opportunity.

Legend has it that Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, was upset at Gawker's coverage of his sexual orientation and its muckraking style of journalism in general. Thiel used the Hogan tape as an opportunity to get revenge by financing lawsuits against Gawker and its senior executives. The lawsuits are reported to have cost Thiel at least $10M.

But they've done their business.

Politico reports that Denton has filed for bankruptcy to prevent Hogan from seizing his assets. Under bankruptcy law, a filing puts in place an "automatic stay" that temporarily stops creditors from seizing assets.

Denton wrote to his (former) employees:

"You may have seen the news that I have, as expected, had to join the company in bankruptcy. Peter Thiel's legal campaign has targeted individual writers like Sam Biddle, editors such as John Cook, and me as publisher. It is a personal vendetta. And yes, it's disturbing to live in a world in which a billionaire can bully journalists because he didn't like the coverage."

But it doesn't look like bankruptcy will be the end of the world for Gawker - Politico reports that Internet traffic to the website went up after the bankruptcy filing and revenue has remained stable.