When in the wrestling ring during his WWF/E days, Hulk Hogan had a textbook style of fighting. It involved his opponent whamming him so badly that it looked like he was about to lose. At that point the crowd would start rooting for Hogan. Recharged by that cheering, Hogan would then go on defeating his opponent.
Those bouts Hogan fought in the ring were staged, but something similar happened in the real world with the former wrestler’s battle with online publishing pioneer Gawker.
Gawker Media has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of US laws.
Hogan’s war with Gawker began when the latter published a one minute, 41-second edited sex tape of the wrestler.
Hogan filed a $140 million lawsuit against Gawker, its founder Nick Denton and editor A.J. Daulerio. A court judgement in March went against the media house.
On Friday, Gawker lost an appeal for a stay on the payments in a Florida court. Their request for postponing payment of the $140 million judgement was accepted but they did not agree to let Hogan hold shares of the company as collateral.
It was then that the company filed for bankruptcy.
But Hogan was not alone in this fight. The man who played the role of the crowd in this bout was billionaire investor Peter Thiel.
Thiel had his own grudge against Gawker; the publication had revealed that he was gay.
Thiel, an early backer of Facebook and a co-founder of PayPal, backed Hogan’s costly legal battle against Gawker.
Even with his billions, Thiel will not silence our writers. Our sites will thrive — under new ownership — and we’ll win in court.
— Nick Denton (@nicknotned) 10 June 2016
Not many are happy with Thiel’s involvement.
A Reuters report says that it has “raised alarm bells in US media circles over the prospect of wealthy individuals using the courts to muzzle the press”.
Wired reports that Gawker’s writers are calling it a “dark day” not because of the bankruptcy but because they’re losing their independence to write fearlessly without the any fear of “corporate overlords trying to quash us”.
Gawker, it has been reported, will continue operating its seven websites – the other six being Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Deadspin and Jezebel – during the bankruptcy process. Its staff of around 300 writers will continue getting paid.
Reports say that Ziff Davis, another media company that produces consumer technology websites like AskMen, Computer Shopper and Geek.com, has entered an agreement to buy Gawker’s assets for a little less than $100 million in what looks like an initial bid.
The auction is likely to take place at the end of July. Before that more bidders are likely to come up.