So much for Gawker two-point-oh.
It has been over a year since Gawker Media filed for bankruptcy after incurring the legal wrath of Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel. The Nick Denton-founded site sold itself to Univision in a fire sale in August 2016, and since then, most Gawker sites have remained intact under its new parent’s umbrella–except for Gawker.com. Instead, that domain is facing an upcoming auction, which could mean any number of uncertain fates.
Last month, however, a coalition of former employees banded together in the hopes of raising enough money to buy the domain back. The group launched a Kickstarter under the moniker “Gawker Foundation.” Its hope was to relaunch the website “under the stewardship of former editors, new writers, and an entirely membership-funded model.” The foundation’s funding goal was $500,000, which is truly lofty for a media company that was sued into oblivion.
Now it looks as if the Gawker’s Foundation’s attempts were in vain. As of today, the campaign has raised only a little over $88,000, not even 18% of what it hoped to hit. The deadline is next Monday, January 8.
The Kickstarter campaign is “all or nothing,” meaning that if it doesn’t miraculously discover $412,000 under the couch in the next four days, the Gawker Foundation will receive none of the funds raised. In the last few days, haters have started donating small amounts they believe will be refunded and posting angry thoughts about Gawker via Kickstarter comments.
To add insult to injury, those who led the anti-Gawker brigade continue to profit. Earlier today, Donald Trump’s lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to Michael Wolff, whose new book about the president’s administration has made multiple viral stories in mere hours. President Trump’s lawyer also happens to be Charles Harder, the very man who sued Gawker numerous times, and has made a name for himself as the go-to lawyer for public figures with axes to grind against media organizations.
There’s more: Peter Thiel, the man who bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s suit against Gawker, has reportedly been toying around with the idea that he should help launch a conservative cable news network. Given that Thiel was considering bidding on the Gawker domain, how nauseatingly ironic it would be if his new Fox News competitor were branded Gawker?
Of course, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen to both the domain and the Gawker Foundation’s attempt to form a new company. Perhaps in some deus ex machina, deep-pocketed donors will navigate to the Kickstarter site and fill the funding gap. Given that journalism over the last year has suffered without Gawker’s fearlessness, irreverence, and willingness to report what others wouldn’t, this would be a happy conclusion.
The only thing I can say is that the group probably should have used GoFundMe.