In fighting a lawsuit filed by the former experienced wrestler Hulk Hogan, Gawker Media lost nearly everything - the verdict, its founder, its independence - however it maintained its resolute conviction that it would win on appeal.
On Wednesday, nonetheless, Gawker capitulated, settling with Hulk Hogan, whose true name is Terry G. Bollea, for $31 million, based on court documents, and bringing to a close a multiyear dispute that stripped the business of a great deal that as soon as defined it.
Faced with a $140 million judgment in the invasion of privacy lawsuit brought by Hogan more than the publication of a video that showed him getting sex using a friend’s wife - plus the later revelation that Peter Thiel, the billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur, was financing the lawsuit and other people against the company - Gawker filed for bankruptcy in June and in the end sold itself in August to Univision for $135 million.
The sale brought an finish for the company’s independence, and Nick Denton, its founder and chief executive, left. Univision took down other Gawker articles that were involved in litigation. Gawker.com, which was at the center on the Hulk Hogan lawsuit, was shut down. Gawker Media even lost its name - the internet sites that Univision acquired are now a part of the Gizmodo Media Group.
All of those developments had been viewed by some because the finish of an era, and journalists - not only these who had worked at Gawker - published articles that typically study like obituaries for a media company that had ushered inside a certain style of irreverent, no-holds-barred journalism on line.
Still, those in the enterprise held on to a steadfast belief that it was in the ideal and that it could be vindicated on appeal. The fight became a symbol of press freedom, pitting a wealthy individual against a take-no-prisoners news organization.
But that fight eventually proved too tough to sustain.
“After 4 years of litigation funded by a billionaire with a grudge going back even further, a settlement has been reached,” Mr. Denton stated in a weblog post on Wednesday.
“All-out legal war with Thiel would have expense an excessive amount of, and hurt also lots of people today, and there was no finish in sight,” Mr. Denton added. “Gawker’s nemesis was not going away.”
Mr. Denton didn't respond to a request for additional comment.
In Could, Mr. Thiel, a founder of PayPal and among the earliest investors in Facebook, acknowledged in an interview using the New York Instances that he was providing economic assistance for Mr. Bollea’s lawsuit, saying he was financing instances against Gawker because it published articles that “ruined people’s lives for no reason.” Mr. Thiel was outed as gay by Valleywag, certainly one of Gawker’s now-defunct blogs, nearly a decade ago.
Inside a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr. Thiel mentioned, “It can be a fantastic day for Terry Bollea and a terrific day for everyone’s proper to privacy.”
David Houston, a lawyer for Mr. Bollea, mentioned in a statement of his personal, “As with any negotiation for resolution, all parties have agreed it truly is time to move on.”
Some Gawker personnel struck a a lot more ominous tone and expressed outrage over what the selection could represent.
“This entire sorry spectacle spells doom for anybody who aspired to do what we aspired to accomplish,” said John Cook, the executive editor of Gizmodo Media Group.
Gawker Media was not the only casualty. Mr. Denton, who was also a defendant inside the lawsuit, filed for private bankruptcy in August, saying, “I do not have that sort of funds lying about.” Mr. Bollea’s lawyers also pursued income from an additional defendant, Albert J. Daulerio, the former editor in chief of Gawker.com.
The debtors have had settlement discussions with Mr. Denton even though they have not reached a final agreement, according to the court documents filed on Wednesday.
Gawker Media also settled two other lawsuits, according to the documents - with Shiva Ayyadurai more than a 2012 post about a claim that he invented email, and together with the journalist Ashley Terrill more than a 2015 report about her efforts to uncover information about a former Tinder executive. Those articles, too because the a single involving Mr. Bollea, is going to be removed from the world-wide-web as a part of the deal amongst the sides.
Ms. Terrill will get $500,000 from Gawker Media, and Mr. Ayyadurai will receive $750,000, as outlined by the court documents. It is not clear if Mr. Thiel was supporting these lawsuits. Charles J. Tougher, a Los Angeles-based lawyer who represented Mr. Bollea, also represented Ms. Terrill and Mr. Ayyadurai.
“History will reflect that this settlement is actually a victory for truth,” Mr. Ayyadurai said within a statement.
When the settlements are authorized by the bankruptcy judge, the money would come in the proceeds with the sale to Univision.
Founded in 2002, Gawker became a go-to web site for New York media gossip and also a magnet for young journalists who would later go on to function at places like the New Yorker, The Awl and Time. Mr. Denton was widely identified for saying journalists shared their most exciting stories in the bar right after work, and his mission was to guide those stories onto his internet sites - to entertain and surprise their readers with information and facts that traditional news organizations often shied away from.
There had been murmurings for months of a possible settlement among Gawker and Mr. Bollea, but even in the weeks major as much as its sale to Univision, Gawker maintained its common swagger, hosting parties - one at a burlesque club in Lower Manhattan - and publishing articles as part of a “senior week” in August that seemed each to become a collection of pie-in-the-sky stories and a reminder of its brashness.
On Wednesday, employees were angry but melancholy. Some wondered why the settlement had come now, just after lots of months.
“Obviously, the way that we ran this, we suffered the maximal attainable harm and gained the least from it,” stated Tom Scocca, the executive options editor of Gizmodo Media Group. “A settlement at this point does nothing to repair any in the harm that was performed.”