So, now I’m a “Gawker Stalker” (and brand unsafe)

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Got an interesting press hit today as a result of my prior interest in Gawker. (As it happens, that NY Post story is apparently “brand unsafe,” perhaps not for every advertiser and reader but, possibly because the title includes the word “stalker,” the text may have triggered the ad-replacing clouds (see my recent article on brand safety).

The Post story makes it seem that I remain interested in Gawker (which I am, but only in the context of nonprofit publishing, which the story doesn’t emphasize, perhaps because the Post’s editors deemed it less less interesting).

Anyway, as some of you may be aware, in 2018 Didit was the stalking (there’s that brand-unsafe word again…) horse bidder for Gawker, hoping to turn it into Gawker For Good (here’s Ad Age take on the idea).

We didn’t win the auction because — at the last minute — Bryan Goldberg at Bustle became interested in the domain and brand. So I let him have the domain, as he is far better capitalized and has significant publishing expertise. Also, at the time he seemed quite interested in developing the asset.

The Inside Story of the Gawker Auction

I’ve never really shared the specifics of auction day for the Gawker assets before, but given the recent news about the indefinite postponement of Gawker’s re-launch, I may as well share it now.

What some folks don’t know is that the third bidder in the final Gawker auction was likely somehow affiliated with Hulk Hogan, who received 45% of the proceeds. Nothing wrong with that of course, but it created an interesting dynamic, and a fun story.

The night before the auction, as the “stalking horse,” bidder, I was able to get notice of identities of the two other bidders: (under corporate bids) Bryan Goldberg, and Marc Hardgrove. Now I had met Marc at Pubcon and other SEM/SEO events over the years and remembered he was located in Tampa. That seemed to be quite the coincidence, since Hulk also lives in Tampa. So I did a quick search and found that it was likely that Michael had teamed up with Hulk in some way, (see the YouTube videos), which was sort of cool.

There was one more reason (besides the fact that Bryan being well capitalized) for me not to increase my bid: it was obvious that I was up against a bidder with a likely effective 45% discount (due to Hulk’s settlement agreement with the Gawker Estate). Even more telling than the YouTube videos was Michael’s former profession to owning a top SEO shop (which is way cool, and a fact I didn’t know about!).

The best thing about the overall Gawker adventure was that it got me thinking about cause marketing-powered publishing, and how I might be able to use publishing platforms and assets to generate social impact. I still hope to have an opportunity to, at least as a hobby, build a cause marketing powered publishing network of sites, under a nonprofit umbrella. We shall see.