Gawker Media Files For Bankruptcy; Ziff Davis Is Likely Buyer

Gawker Media — former home to Consumerist and former employer of two current Consumerist staffers — is filing for bankruptcy after being on the receiving end of a $140 million legal pile driver by wrestler/reality star Hulk Hogan.

Bloomberg reports that Gawker filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this morning in a federal bankruptcy court in New York, unable to pay the huge jury award to Hogan and still remain operational.

Yet the Gawker brand and website will likely not go away, as publisher Ziff Davis — which already operates sites like IGN, PC Magazine, and Geek.com — has already expressed an interest in swooping in to buy up the remains of Gawker at a bargain.

In a letter to ZD staff, CEO Vivek Shah announced today that his company has agreed to purchase the Gawker flagship site, along with Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Deadspin, and Jezebel — and that it will be making the purchase without absorbing any of the liability that Gawker currently faces for publishing a snippet of a private sex tape featuring Hogan and the then-wife of his friend Todd “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem.

However, in order for ZD to acquire these sites, the court must first schedule and hold an auction, which Shah says will likely occur toward the end of July.

“In the event we become the acquirer, the additions of Gizmodo, Lifehacker and Kotaku would fortify our position in consumer tech and gaming,” he writes. “With the addition of Jalopnik, Deadspin and Jezebel, we would broaden our position as a lifestyle publisher.”

Earlier this year, but before losing the Hogan lawsuit, Gawker had taken on its first outside investor, Columbus Nova Technology Partners, which paid $100 million for a minority stake in the company.

At the time, Gawker’s founder and owner Nick Denton had reportedly put a value of around $250 million on the company, but following the outcome of the trial, during which a much lower $83 million figure was put on Gawker, that value has dropped.

Before Memorial Day, the company confirmed it had brought in an outside banker to help consider its options, including a sale. At the time, there were reportedly already informal offers for Gawker in the range of $50 million to $70 million.