Get ready for Gawker 3.0: The twice-shuttered blog site has a new owner, who plans to bring the gossipy and biting pop-culture brand back to life — but not in exactly the same way.
Meng Ru Kuok, CEO and founder of Singapore-based Caldecott Music Group, acquired the assets of Gawker from Bustle Digital Group. In an email to Variety, Kuok confirmed that he has closed the deal buying the Gawker trademarks and domain name but not its article archives. He said the deal for Gawker is unrelated to his existing operating businesses.
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“As it relates to the future for Gawker, as a brand that spent many years in the public consciousness, my personal opinion is that it has the opportunity for reinvention,” Kuok said in the email. “Whatever plans materialize, what’s for sure is that it won’t be the same as it was before.”
Terms of the sale aren’t being disclosed. A BDG rep confirmed that the company sold Gawker but declined to comment further.
Currently, Gawker.com has a placeholder page that reads, “Gawker. It’s a website on the internet.” The @Gawker handle on X (aka Twitter), which has a bio that says “Today’s news is yesterday’s gossip,” has been inactive since BGD shut down the relaunched version of the site in February 2023.
The holdings of Kuok’s Caldecott Music Group include BandLab Technologies, which develops and tools and services for music creators; media company NME Networks, which comprises music publications NME, Guitar.com and MusicTech; and Vista Musical Instruments, whose brands include Mono, Harmony, Teisco, Heritage Guitars, Swee Lee and Dawsons.
Founded in 2002 by British journalist Nick Denton, the original Gawker went dormant in 2016 when its parent company went belly-up after losing an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit with wrestler Hulk Hogan (a legal action funded by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who had an axe to grind with Gawker over a 2007 story that reported that the PayPal co-founder was gay).
In 2018, Bustle Digital Group founder and CEO Bryan Goldberg bought the website’s assets for $1.35 million in a bankruptcy auction. The New York-based company, which owns media properties including Bustle, Nylon, The Zoe Report and Elite Daily, had intended to relaunch Gawker.com in 2019 but Goldberg suspended those plans and laid off the staff he had hired after reported clashes among employees.
In July 2021, BDG officially launched the new Gawker, helmed by editor in chief Leah Finnegan (a member of the original Gawker staff). But the site struggled to make money and 18 months later the company shut down Gawker, with Goldberg telling BDG employees that the decision was made to “prioritize our better-monetized sites.”
Kuok, the son of palm-oil billionaire Kuok Khoon Hong, previously owned a 49% stake in Rolling Stone. In 2017, Wenner Media sold a controlling interest in Rolling Stone to Penske Media Corp. (parent of Variety). PMC bought out Kuok’s stake to acquire full control of the publication in 2019.
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