Executives at Gawker Media told employees today that the company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel’s third-party funding of several lawsuits against the company. This plan will allow Gawker to continue functioning, but will require selling the company to another entity. The move came after the Hon. Pamela A.M. Campbell of Pinellas County, Florida denied Gawker’s request to stay the enforcement of a $50 million bond that would allow it to appeal the $140 million verdict that a 6-person jury awarded Hulk Hogan in March.
The filing is not expected to affect Gawker Media’s normal editorial or business operations for the foreseeable future. However, it is the most significant change to Gawker’s corporate structure in its 14-year history. In tandem with its bankruptcy filing, the company announced that it has entered into an asset purchase agreement with the media conglomerate Ziff Davis, which serves as an initial bid to purchase the company. The bankruptcy process will involve an auction of the company, including its seven main media brands, and several additional buyers beyond Ziff Davis are expected to enter the bidding.
Gawker Media’s parent company, Gawker Media Group, explained the decision to sell in a statement distributed on Friday:
The sale and filing are intended to preserve the value of GMG’s pioneering digital news business, safeguard the jobs of journalists and other staff, and allow GMG to fund the appeal against the $130 million judgment in the Hulk Hogan case against the company in a Florida state court.
In the same statement, CEO Nick Denton said:
Authentic writing, whether it takes the form of honest reviews of technology, video games and entertainment, or revelations about the way the system works, is more important than ever. We have been forced by this litigation to give up our longstanding independence, but our writers remain committed to telling the true stories that underpin credibility with our millions of readers. With stronger backing and disentangled from litigation, they can perform their vital work on more platforms and in different forms.