First you put it into bankruptcy, then you buy it.
That's the strategy of Peter Thiel who secretly (at first) funded Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker, which ultimately resulted in the company's bankruptcy, and now is looking to buy what remains of the once popular blog for "a few million dollars."
According to Reuters, Thiel has made an offer for Gawker "hoping to overcome legal hurdles and rival bidders for the online news site the billionaire helped shutter by funding litigation against it."
Gawker, which has been shuttered for over a year, is conducting an auction of its remaining assets, including its domain names and nearly 200,000 archived articles. Most of its viable assets, including its sister pages Deadspin and Jezebel, were bought in 2016 for $135 million by media company Univision Holdings Inc.
While Thiel, Facebook's first major investor, has not said why he wants Gawker, the potential acquisition 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 according to Reuters.
As a reminder, Gawker in 2007 published a story about Thiel's homosexuality, which resulted in a simmering vendetta between the two, and culminated with Thiel funded Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker after the site published a sex tape featuring Hogan. The former wrestler won a $140 million judgment against the site, and later settled for $31 million.
Meanwhile, Reuters also notes that Gawker's bankruptcy plan administrators Will Holden, of consulting firm Dacarba LLC, and the website's bankruptcy attorney Gregg Galardi, of law firm Ropes & Gray LLP, have tried to block Thiel's bid, according to court papers.
Galardi in late November asked a U.S. bankruptcy court judge to deny Thiel's request to bid, according to court papers. He also argued Thiel is "not a 'proper' purchaser" because he could end up as the target of litigation, according to court papers.
Thiel won't be alone in bidding for the remaining Gawker assets:
Multiple bidders have submitted offers for the site, Holden said in a phone interview on Thursday. Holden will choose a winner as soon as this month, and then request approval for the deal from a U.S. bankruptcy court judge, the sources said. 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 could not be learned, though the sources said Gawker is only now worth a few million dollars.
Kevin Lee, the co-founder and executive chairman of Didit, a marketing firm, said he also submitted a bid, without disclosing its value. If successful, Lee said, he plans to use the site to raise money for readers' preferred charities.
Finally, a group of former Gawker employees this week abandoned their effort to bid, one of the sources said. They had launched a campaign seeking $500,000 in donations through fundraising site Kickstarter, but failed to reach their goal and have returned the approximately $90,000 they did collect.