An underbidder for snarky website Gawker in last year’s bankruptcy auction is hoping he gets another shot at acquiring it now that Bryan Goldberg’s Bustle Digital Group has put it into mothballs.
Kevin Lee, a co-founder of digital ad agency Didit, had submitted a so-called “stalking horse” bid of $1.3 million at the auction, and then refused to go up when Goldberg’s Bustle materialized and won it in a four-minute auction.
Lee told Media Ink he wants another shot at Gawker following The Post’s report last week that Bustle postponed the website’s relaunch and laid off its entire staff, including Editor-in-Chief Dan Peres.
So far, Goldberg hasn’t responded to Lee’s request for lunch. That may because the Bustle CEO isn’t looking to unload the site that he paid close to $1.5 million to acquire.
“BDG is not entertaining incoming conversations to sell Gawker,” said a spokesperson. “The brand and its archive will continue to live within BDG’s portfolio.”
But with no new content, traffic for the archive continues to erode — falling to 244,000 unique visitors in June 2019 from 471,000 in June 2018, according to Comscore. That’s a nearly 50% tumble.
One of Gawker’s most explosive videos not in the archive drew an invasion of privacy lawsuit from former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan (aka Terry Bollea), who said he suffered emotional pain after Gawker aired a sex tape of him and his then best friend’s wife. A jury awarded Hogan $140 million, forcing then owner Nick Denton to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The site went dark in August 2016, but after Bustle gained rights, its archive was searchable.
Lee said he would turn Gawker into a softer version of its former self and into what he described as “Medium for Hollywood.” Under that model, which he called “Cause Marketing,” entertainment stars could post articles. He would sell ads and split the revenue with charities that stars and readers designate.
“This is basically a brand nobody wants,” said Lee. “I don’t think Bryan or anybody else can bring back the old Gawker.
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Lee said he would run it as a not-for-profit, and that he’s reached out to other shut-down indie websites that he’d like to relaunch, including Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s The Lenny Report and fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie Mag, both of which folded in 2018.