Tuesday 25 October 2016

Gawker files for bankruptcy after losing massive privacy lawsuit

Andrew Dunn

Published 12/06/2016 | 02:30

Tech tycoon Peter Thiel funded the privacy suit
Tech tycoon Peter Thiel funded the privacy suit

Gawker Media filed for bankruptcy in New York on Friday, after losing an invasion of privacy suit brought by former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan and funded by tech billionaire Peter Thiel.

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The company listed a $130m claim from the litigation as "disputed" in its Chapter 11 petition.

Gawker said last month that it had hired a banker to explore strategic options, including a possible sale, as the digital media company fought the potentially crippling damages award.

Publisher Ziff Davis, owner of PC magazine and Geek.com, has already made an offer to buy all of Gawker's assets for less than $100m.

Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, sued the media- and celebrity-focused website in 2012 over the publication of a tape showing him having sex with a friend's wife - claiming the publication cost him endorsements and inflicted emotional harm.

Thiel, the libertarian-leaning venture capitalist who co-founded PayPal and sits on the board of Facebook Inc., made a financial contribution to the suit.

Gawker and Thiel have a contentious history: the website outed him as gay in 2007. Thiel has since publicly acknowledged that he's gay, and called Gawker's now-defunct blog Valleywag the "Silicon Valley equivalent of al-Qaeda."

In May, Gawker chief executive officer Nick Denton challenged Thiel to a debate. However, this weekend Gawker told staff it still planned to appeal against the ruling and would continue to operate, but it was now examining offers to buy the website.

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