All good things must come to an end. Including Gawker.
“Gawker.com is shutting down today, Monday 22nd August, 2016, some 13 years after it began and two days before the end of my forties,” the site’s founder, Nick Denton, writes in the site’s official obituary published yesterday evening at 5:30 p.m. “It is the end of an era.”
The post is basically a 4,500-word rant against Peter Thiel, the gay billionaire Republican responsible for bringing the gossip site down.
“Peter Thiel has achieved his objectives,” Denton writes. “His proxy, Terry Bollea, also known as Hulk Hogan, has a claim on the company and my personal assets after winning a $140 million trial court judgment in his Florida privacy case.”
Denton goes on to explain that the site’s former editor, who wrote the original 2012 article about Hogan, has been financially ruined, as well, with “a $230 million hold on his checking account.”
“Peter Thiel has gotten away with what would otherwise be viewed as an act of petty revenge by reframing the debate on his terms,” Denton continues. “Having spent years on a secret scheme to punish Gawker’s parent company and writers for all manner of stories, Thiel has now cast himself as a billionaire privacy advocate, helping others whose intimate lives have been exposed by the press.”
He calls the entire thing “an act of destruction,” noting the site was hugely popular and profitable before Thiel launched his personal vendetta in the courts.
“Gawker will be missed,” Denton writes. “But in dramatic terms, it is a fitting conclusion to this experiment in what happens when you let journalists say what they really think.”
Denton also explains what will become of Gawker‘s staff (they’re being assigned to other properties within Gawker Media Group, now owned by Univision) and praises all the wonderful things Gawker has achieved over the years (including pioneering online media, publishing over 200,000 “fearless” articles, and launching countless careers).
He concludes the obituary by pining for the days when freedom of the press was still a thing.
“At Gawker’s founding,” he writes, “there was a sense that the internet was a free space, where anything can be said. An island off the mainland, where people could be themselves. Where writers could say things that would get you fired in an instant from a print publication. Where you could say what you thought without fear of being fired, or sued out of existence.”
“That freedom,” Denton says, “was illusory.”