Billionaire investor and venture capitalist Peter Thiel has made an offer for the remaining assets of Gawker, the online news site he helped shut down by funding litigation against it, according to Reuters.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, the news agency reported Thursday that Thiel submitted a bid, aiming to own the shuttered site’s domain names and content archive.
Gawker, which has been inactive for more than a year, is conducting an auction of its remaining assets, including its domain names and nearly 200,000 archived articles.
Most of its assets, including its sister pages Deadspin, a sports site, and Jezebel, a feminist blog, were bought in 2016 for US$135 million by media company Univision Holdings.
Thiel has not said why he wants Gawker, but the potential purchase would let him take down stories regarding his personal life that are still available on the website, and remove the scope for further litigation between him and Gawker, Reuters noted.
Gawker’s bankruptcy plan administrator Will Holden and the website’s bankruptcy attorney Gregg Galardi have tried to block Thiel’s bid, according to court papers.
Galardi in late November asked a US bankruptcy court judge to deny Thiel’s request to bid. He argued Thiel is “not a ‘proper’ purchaser” because he could end up as the target of litigation.
Thiel funded former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker after the site published a sex tape featuring Hogan. The former wrestler, whose real name is Terry Bollea, won a US$140 million judgment against the site, and later settled for US$31 million.
Gawker in 2007 published a story about the homosexuality of Thiel, who was Facebook’s first major investor and a co-founder of PayPal.
Multiple bidders have submitted offers for the site, Holden told Reuters on Thursday.
Holden will choose a winner as soon as this month, and then request approval for the deal from a bankruptcy court judge, Reuters cited its sources as saying.
If Holden excludes Thiel’s bid, Thiel could ask the judge to consider it if it is higher than rival offers.
The value of Thiel’s bid is not known, but sources told Reuters that Gawker is only now worth a few million dollars.
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