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The internet’s twice-shuttered gossip column Gawker is coming back with a new owner—BandLab’s Caldecott Music Group.
Variety has confirmed CMG CEO Meng Ru Kuok has closed a deal to obtain the Gawker trademarks and domain name, but not its article archive. That means if Gawker does return to the internet, it will be tabula rasa—without all the Peter Thiel baggage.
“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 confirmed in an email to Variety about the purchase. “Whatever plans materialize, what’s for sure is that it won’t be the same as it was before.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed and currently the domain and social media profiles are placeholder domains. Caldecott Music Group holdings include BandLab Technologies, a developer of tools and services for music creators, the media company NME Networks—comprising publications NME, Guitar.com, and MusicTech, and Vista Musical Instruments.
Gawker was originally founded in 2002 by Nick Denton. The company filed for bankruptcy and went belly-up in 2016 after losing a privacy lawsuit filed by Hulk Hogan, but backed by tech billionaire Peter Thiel.
After the bankruptcy, the assets were bought at auction by Bryan Goldberg, with the intention to relaunch the site. However those efforts ran aground and efforts to relaunch the brand were put on ice.
In July 2021 Gawker was relaunched under the guidance of Leah Finnegan, but the site struggled in a different digital landscape. After just 18 months, Bustle Digital Group shut down Gawker for the second time, this time to “prioritize better-monetized businesses.”
With the third time be a charm? Will the third iteration focus on the music industry? For now the plans for the site are unclear, but denizens of the internet will remember the name Gawker—though none of the landmark reporting remains.