A Mineola-based marketing firm, Didit, was bested by the owner of Bustle in a bid to buy out the remaining assets Gawker on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.
Didit’s $1.13 million bid was the “stalking horse bid” in the sale of the gossip website, the firm announced at the end of May.
Bryan Goldberg, owner of Bustle, Elite Daily and The Zoe Report, ultimately won the auction with a $1.35 million offer, according to The Wall Street Journal.
As the stalking horse bid, Didit could have raised its initial offer to buy out Gawker, but decided not to.
Kevin Lee, Didit co-founder and executive chairman, said the company made an evaluation of the Gawker domain based on search optimization elements, social media sharing and other factors.
Over the last six months, since the evaluations were made in January, Didit saw the value decrease, Lee said.
“Applying the same analysis we did … we couldn’t come up with a materially higher bid,” Lee said.
That was the “numbers side of it,” Lee said, but not the sole reason Didit backed down on it’s bid after the Thursday morning auction.
“When we showed up at the auction, with Brian Goldberg participating … I’m like, okay this is sort of like the amateur MMA fighter going up against the pro, you’re just not going to win so why bother fighting,” Lee said.
The sale comes after Gawker filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2016 following a lawsuit from wrestler Hulk Hogan after the site posted a sex tape of Hogan.
Didit had planned to transform Gawker.com, infamous for its often salacious celebrity gossip, into “Gawker For Good.”
The new site would pivot Gawker’s editorial content 180-degrees, Lee said.
It would “focus exclusively on ‘Good Gossip’ and ‘Good News,'” the company described in a May release.
“We sort of liked the idea of Gawker for Good at a particular price … and beyond that particular price were less interested in it,” Lee said.
Didit still plans on launching their news site, with tech they’ve been testing, under the domain Briefme.com, Lee said.
If Didit had prevailed with their bid, the firm would’ve expedited the process to launch the site under Gawker’s domain, Lee said.
Didit will continue to keep an eye out for other domains that become available, and pursue those at a price that makes sense, Lee said.