Ziff Davis, Univision Said to Be Only Bidders for Gawker

Updated on
  • Gawker chose Ziff Davis’s ‘stalking horse’ $90 mln bid in June
  • Univision, Ziff Davis both seeking younger, online audiences

Gawker Media, driven into bankruptcy in June after losing an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit to Hulk Hogan, has attracted formal takeover offers from only two bidders -- Ziff Davis and Univision Holdings Inc., according to a person familiar with the matter.

The winner for Gawker could be announced as soon as Tuesday, said the person, who asked not to be named because the bidding is private.

The New York-based digital media company picked Ziff Davis in June as the “stalking horse” bid, with an opening offer of $90 million. That proposal includes what Gawker called an “extraordinary provision”: an agreement to retain Gawker founder Nick Denton under a two-year consulting contract that pays about $200,000 annually. The contract would also prohibit Denton from working with a competitor during that period.

The two bids come from established media brands looking to capture younger audiences online.

New York-based Ziff Davis is an 89-year-old publishing company known for chronicling the rise of the computing industry with technology-focused titles like PC Magazine. As print-ad sales declined, the company expanded online with web sites such as AskMen.com, Geek.com and the blog ExtremeTech. The closely held company was sold to internet-services provider J2 Global Inc. in 2012 for $167 million.

For Univision, acquiring Gawker would complement an aggressive digital push. In January, the largest U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster made a minority investment in Onion Inc., owner of the satirical website The Onion. Univision has also acquired The Root, a digital magazine geared toward African American audiences. Earlier this year Univision said it will combine several businesses in its new Fusion Media Group, including the El Rey channel, as well as the Root, the Onion, A.V. Club, Clickhole, Starwipe, Flama, Univision Digital and Univision Music.

If Gawkers selects Univision’s bid, Ziff Davis is entitled to a $2.47 million breakup fee, with expense reimbursement of as much as $1.25 million.

Representatives from Gawker and Univision didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment outside of normal business hours.