For over a year, I extensively covered Gawker Media’s legal battle with former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, which resulted in the company’s bankruptcy and sale to Univision.
Back in June 2015, I was the first to report on the threat that this invasion of privacy case posed to Gawker Media’s business:
I dug into court filings in the case and discovered that Gawker was suing the FBI in an attempt to gain access to records related to the FBI’s investigation into Hulk Hogan’s sex tapes:
In July, Gawker.com was thrust into a new controversy when it published, and then removed, an extremely controversial post about a media executive:
Following the removal of the controversial post, Gawker Media executive editor Tommy Craggs and Gawker.com editor Max Read resigned in protest. Gawker CEO Nick Denton held a series of tense all-hands meetings, and I obtained recordings and detailed notes from the meetings:
In September, I interviewed over a dozen former Gawker writers and editors in an attempt to better understand the company’s changing journalistic standards:
In October, I broke the news that Gawker Media’s president and general counsel had told staff that the company would probably lose the Hogan case:
In November, Gawker.com abruptly laid off seven staffers and announced that it would relaunch as a politics site. This also spelled the end of Denton’s quixotic, years-long effort to develop an independent blogging platform called Kinja:
The case went to trial in March 2016, and I flew down to St. Petersburg, Fla. to cover it. It did not go well for Gawker. The jury awarded Hogan an extraordinary $140.1 million in damages, and I looked at Gawker’s plan to appeal the ruling:
In May, I broke the news that Univision had considered investing in Gawker before the trial, and I dug into Gawker’s tax returns to break news about Gawker’s revenue and profit numbers:
In June, I found an old pitch deck that detailed Gawker’s ambitious plan to develop and monetize its Kinja publishing platform. The strategy was derailed by the Hogan litigation:
Later in June, Gawker Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and put itself up for sale, in order to prevent Hogan and Peter Thiel — the billionaire investor who secretly funded Hogan’s lawsuit and other suits against Gawker — from seizing the company’s assets. From then on, I covered the Chapter 11 process:
In August, Univision purchased most of Gawker’s assets at a bankruptcy auction for $135 million. Following the sale, Denton left the company and Gawker.com was shut down:
As a condition of the sale, Univision removed posts that were the subject of ongoing litigation, which upset Gawker staff. I talked to Univision executive Isaac Lee about the decision:
In November, Gawker finally settled with Hogan for $31 million. One provision of the settlement prevents Denton from buying back the Gawker.com website.