Business

Gawker Media files for bankruptcy, now trying to sell itself

Gawker Media, which recently lost a lawsuit against wrestling icon Hulk Hogan, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States.

Company says it can't pay $140M owed to Hulk Hogan

Gawker Media founder Nick Denton says he will appeal the court's ruling in favour of Hulk Hogan. (Steve Nesius/Associated Press)

Gawker Media, which recently lost a lawsuit against wrestling icon Hulk Hogan, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States, telling a New York court that its liabilities are as much as 10 times larger than its assets.

In a court filing with the Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York, Gawker Media LLC says it has somewhere between $50 and $100 million US in assets, and faces liabilities up to $500 million US.

The company was recently ordered to pay $140 million in damages to Terry Bollea, the real name of wrestling icon Hulk Hogan, after the wrestler sued the website for breach of privacy. Hogan sued Gawker after it posted a video of him having sex with a friend's wife. Hogan was awarded $115 million in compensatory damages plus an added $25 million in punitive damages.

It was later revealed that billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel had been secretly funding Hogan's lawsuit.

Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, earning much of his fortune there, has been a frequent target of Gawker writers, who have written unflattering pieces about Thiel's political beliefs and utopian goals. One 2007 post outed Thiel as gay. Another Gawker site, Valleywag, ran a number of stories skewering Facebook.

A spokesman for Thiel said he had no comment on Friday.

Gawker says it plans to sell itself to publishing company Ziff Davis. Davis, which owns other web publishing properties, has put up what's known as a "stalking horse" bid of $100 million for Gawker — meaning that's the benchmark price that other offers would have to beat.

Gawker founder Nick Denton said in a statement that Ziff Davis's e-commerce, licensing and video assets would be a good fit with Gawker's websites. It owns tech site Gizmodo, sports site Deadpsin, video-game site Kotaku, celebrity and women-focused site Jezebel, news and gossip site Gawker, car-site Jalopnik and self-help site Lifehacker.

Bollea is listed in the filing as the largest creditor, but Gawker says it owes money to several hundred other people and companies that it can't currently pay.

With files from Associated Press

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