Former Gawker employees are fighting hard to save the news site from extinction.
A coalition of former employees banded together to form The Gawker Foundation and launched a Kickstarter campaign on Monday to raise the funds needed to buy Gawker.com. After a $140 million lawsuit from former wrestler Hulk Hogan bankrupted the company, Gawker Media brands were put up for auction. All but Gawker.com were bought by Univision in a $135 million bid. The site was shut down in August 2016, although most of its archives remain available.
″Some news: Today, after months of work from a handful of former @Gawker employees/friends (incl @espiers), we’re proud launch http://SaveGawker.com, a @kickstarter effort to preserve the archives and make a bid to buy back the site. If you give a damn, please donate,” James Del, a former advertising executive at Gawker, tweeted Monday.
Gawker.com was one of the biggest outlets in reporting sexual harassment cases. The site published pieces on men who have now had numerous sexual misconduct allegations laid out against them, including comedian Louis C.K., who in November admitted masturbating in front of women after years of denying Gawker’s article.
Hogan, who’s real name is Terry Bollea, won a lawsuit against Gawker Media for invasion of privacy after the site published a sex tape of Hogan with the wife of his former best friend Bubba “The Love Sponge” Clem. The case was initially filed in 2012 after the site refused to take down the tape and ended with Hogan being awarded $140 million in damages last year. Forbes revealed that the lawsuit was funded in secret by tech billionaire Peter Thiel.
Now Gawker employees are trying to prevent Thiel from buying Gawker.com and erasing the site from history.
″There’s a risk that someone else buys the site and archives for their own financial gain or a desire to scrub the site from the internet entirely,” the Kickstarter campaign says. “We’re prepared for that reality and have a contingency plan to preserve this historical record and resume doing the work that Gawker once did regardless of the outcome of the auction.”
Thiel wrote an op-ed in The New York Times after the court case that bankrupted the site, explaining that he was proud of the jury’s decision. A large part of Thiel’s willingness to fund Hogan’s case was due to a 2007 article on Gawker that “outed” the billionaire as gay.
The Gawker Foundation hopes to raise enough money to relaunch Gawker.com as a subscription-based service.