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Gawker.com is shutting down

Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan win. Again.

Gawker founder Nick Denton
Asa Mathat for Vox Media

Univision is buying Gawker Media Group for $135 million, but it won’t be taking the company’s flagship site.

Instead, Gawker.com is shutting down its operations and assigning its staff to other properties within Gawker Media, which runs six other sites including Gizmodo, Deadspin and Jezebel.

The website itself won’t go dark when it stops publication, but it won’t have anyone running it.

Gawker Media founder Nick Denton told his staff this afternoon about the plans to shutter the site, in advance of a bankruptcy court hearing where a judge is expected to approve Univision’s purchase. If U.S. bankruptcy court judge Stuart Bernstein signs off on the deal, it should still take a few weeks to formally close.

[Update: It's a done deal. Here's Denton's note explaining what happens next.]

Univision has agreed to employ at least 95 percent of Gawker Media’s current workforce, a plan that presumably includes hiring some current Gawker.com employees.

Gawker.com’s fate has been an open question ever since Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel won a $140 million judgement against Gawker Media earlier this year. Would-be buyers were interested in Gawker Media’s other properties, but viewed Gawker itself as a problem.

Here’s an analogy: If you buy a house, your purchase may include the rights to the appliances and light fixtures in the house — but you can toss those to the curb when you move in. In this case, Denton is removing the stuff Univision doesn’t want, before the deal closes.

Gawker.com’s zombie status means that Hogan and Thiel are guaranteed a victory in their campaign against Denton and his site, even if Denton eventually wins an appeal in the courtroom. They’ve forced him to sell off the media company he founded in 2002, and to abandon the site that once set the tone for digital publishing.

It’s theoretically possible that Denton, who has filed for bankruptcy protection himself, could fend off Hogan and Thiel in court, harvest some of the proceeds from the Univision deal and restart Gawker.com himself. But that outcome won’t show up anytime soon, if ever.

Last week, in advance of the Gawker Media auction, I interviewed Elizabeth Spiers, Gawker.com's founding editor. Here’s what’s essentially a eulogy for the site:

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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