A Mineola marketing and communications firm has emerged as the leading bidder for the remaining assets of the bankrupt news and gossip website Gawker.com.
Didit became the “stalking horse” bidder after its $1.13 million offer in the first round of bidding turned out to be the highest, David Pasternack, Didit co-founder and chief executive, said Wednesday.
The plan administrator of the Gawker estate then petitioned the bankruptcy court to hold a second auction. That decision is expected by June 20 and the final auction could begin the week of July 9.
As the stalking horse, Didit would be given the chance to raise its bid in the final auction.
“If they beat our bid, we get a chance to beat that bid or get paid to go away,” Pasternack said in an interview. “We’re in the best position because we were the original winning bidder.”
Didit would acquire the domain name Gawker.com, more than 200,000 archived stories, and intellectual property such as trademarks, said Kevin Lee, Didit’s executive chairman and also a co-founder. Didit would also gain the right to re-establish a Gawker.com presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Lee said.
“All the social media handles, we would be given the keys to,” Lee said. “The Gawker name brings name recognition.”
If Didit prevails at the auction, it plans to transform Gawker.com into “Gawker for Good.” The site would focus on “good gossip” and “good news,” and deliver “informative and entertaining” content about entertainment, sports, gaming and celebrity news, Didit said.
It plans to incorporate the site into its “cause marketing” group and donate 50 percent of ad revenue from the website to nonprofits selected by content creators and readers, the firm said.
“If it works, it is quite conceivable that we could end up generating millions of dollars for charity,” Lee said.
One expert called the venture "risky" because the transformation would run counter to Gawker's image and alienate its previous target audience.
"Gawker was a more feet-on-the-ground journalism style that was designed to be in your face and more abrasive," said Jamie Cohen, assistant professor of new media at Molloy College in Rockville Centre. "So in financial terms, I don't know if it would regain its original audience in any way."
While he said he liked the idea of a "for good" site, he doesn't know how financially viable it could be.
"I just don't think that is something that people do in looking for investment," he said.
Lee said, “We agree that there is risk associated with the pivot, except that it would be a substantially new readership. If someone expected to see the old Gawker back, they would be disappointed, but we are OK with that.”
Gawker was a highly regarded website when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2016, after pro wrestler Hulk Hogan won a $140 million judgment against it over the posting of a sex tape.
In 2016, the Spanish-language media company Univision bought many of the site’s assets at auction.