Gawker.com to shut down next week after 14 years

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Nick Denton, founder of Gawker, talks with his legal team before Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, testifies in court during his trial against Gawker Media at the Pinellas County Courthouse on March 8, 2016 in St Petersburg, Fla. (Photo: John Pendygraft-Pool/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Gawker.com, the flagship site of Gawker Media that typified the company’s candid and unapologetic brand of journalism, will be shuttered next week, it was announced Thursday.

The development comes days after Univision agreed to buy Gawker Media, the pioneering digital news startup founded by Nick Denton, for $135 million.

It represents an abrupt end for a pioneering site that helped define a snarky tone and style that are now ubiquitous across digital media. The site also served as a springboard for some of the internet’s best-known writers and editors.

But Gawker.com had its critics, many of whom are likely celebrating Thursday’s news. The site’s unsparing coverage prompted several lawsuits, including the one brought by the former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan that sent the parent company into bankruptcy.

In June, Gawker Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after the company’s expensive legal fight with Hogan, a court fight that was funded by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.

Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, filed an invasion of privacy suit against Gawker Media after the namesake site published a portion of his sex tape in 2012.

A Florida jury awarded Hogan $140.1 million in damages earlier this year, which motivated both Gawker Media and Denton to file for bankruptcy this summer.

Denton delivered the news to staffers at a meeting early Thursday afternoon at Gawker’s headquarters in Manhattan, two hours before a scheduled hearing to ratify Univision’s acquisition and a day after he confirmed that he would be leaving the company following the sale.

But by the time the meeting was called, employees had resigned themselves to the reality that Gawker.com’s days were numbered.

“We’re all operating under the assumption that they’re shutting it down,” one staffer said before heading into the meeting.

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