Univision Wins Bidding for Gawker Media, Continuing to Build Its Media Portfolio

Ziff Davis Kicked Off the Competition With a $90 Million Bid

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Gawker Media founder and CEO Nick Denton.
Gawker Media founder and CEO Nick Denton. Credit: Benedict Evans/Gawker Media

In late April, the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision announced plans for the Fusion Media Group, which would include Fusion, formerly a co-venture with Disney, as well as acquired brands The Onion and The Root. Now, Univision is acquiring another media brand: Gawker Media Group.

On Tuesday, Gawker said Univision had won an auction for Gawker Media, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June as it stared down a $140 million judgment in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit by Hulk Hogan.

Univision and publisher Ziff Davis, which had bid $90 million even before Tuesday's auction, had been seen as the top contenders for Gawker Media.

"Gawker Media Group has agreed this evening to sell our business and popular brands to Univision, one of America's largest media companies that is rapidly assembling the leading digital media group for millennial and multicultural audiences," Gawker Media founder Nick Denton said in a statement provided to Ad Age Tuesday evening. "I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership -- disentangled from the legal campaign against the company. We could not have picked an acquirer more devoted to vibrant journalism."

Mr. Denton confirmed that Univision was paying $135 million, a figure first reported by Recode.

Gawker Media is an obvious fit for the ambitions of Univision and Fusion Media Group, which Univision has described as "a collection of brands that speak with an authentic voice and a convention-breaking, youthful perspective." Univision is positioning the Fusion Media Group to be a one-stop content destinaton for millennials, as well as an attractive group offering for the many advertisers seeking them.

For Gawker, the sale ends 14 years of independence, though it seems to preserve the spirit of the company. Throughout the process, it was clear that Gawker, and Mr. Denton, only wanted to sell to a company that shared its values and would not seek to dismantle the topic-based brands -- such as Deadspin for sports and Gizmodo for technology -- that comprise it.

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