Upstart Publisher LittleThings Bids $10M in Stock For Gawker Media's Jezebel
In a surprise, last-second move, LittleThings, an upstart publisher that is known for mastering the art of social publishing, announced Tuesday a $10 million, all-stock offer for the Gawker Media women's site Jezebel.
Following the company's recent bankruptcy filing, Gawker Media's assets are being sold at auction Tuesday. The auction, which is being handled by Mark Patricof of Houlihan Lokey, is being held at the office of Ropes & Gray LLP.
Bids for the company were due at 5 p.m. on Monday, so the offer from LittleThings is late. But the company is hoping that its offer will still be considered, especially if it is determined that Gawker Media's assets can fetch more by being split up than being sold as a whole, LittleThings CEO Joe Speiser told Ad Age.
As for whether the late offer will be considered, Mr. Speiser said, "I'd be surprised if it wouldn't be. $10 million is still $10 million. Until it's all sold, every bid is in play." (A spokesperson said LittleThings has a presence at today's auction, through a proxy.)
And, if LittleThings is not able to acquire Jezebel in the auction, he said his company will pursue the asset from the new buyer. "Worst case we make a run at Jez with the new buyer," Mr. Speiser said.
According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, bids are only being considered for the entire company, which publishes under individual brands including Jezebel, Deadspin (sports) and Gizmodo (technology).
Publishers Ziff Davis and Univision are considered the top two candidates to buy Gawker Media, though reporters -- and Gawker Media employees -- are playing a guessing game until the results of the auction are finally announced, and the new owner is crowned.
Mr. Speiser said the offer was submitted to Mr. Patricof this morning. He said the auction process could stretch into Wednesday, but added, "I'm hoping for some kind of resolution tonight, to have an answer, at least where we stand."
He pegged the chances of LittleThings winning Jezebel in the bankruptcy process to be in the low single digits.
LittleThings is only interested in acquiring Jezebel, Mr. Speiser said. But he was surprised by what he deemed a tepid show of interest in Gawker Media's assets.
"Jezebel is a fantastic brand, and I think it's been living under the shadow of Gawker for too long," he said.
LittleThings is moving into a new office on the west side of Manhattan in 45 days, so the company's chief executive suggested that the timing is ideal. "We're hoping to provide a home for their entire staff," Mr. Speiser said.