Two years after buying, Univision wants to sell its Gawker, Onion portfolios
After a rapid acquisition of English-speaking online properties in 2016, Univision Media Co. is reversing course. On Tuesday, the Hispanic America-focused media company announced its intent to sell all assets related to two of its biggest 2016 pickups: Gizmodo Media Group (formerly Gawker Media) and The Onion.
Univision (UCI) "determined that pursuing a sale of GMG and The Onion collectively will allow UCI to focus on its core assets and further strengthen UCI's position as the No. 1 media company serving US Hispanics, while enabling both GMG and The Onion even greater opportunities to grow under new ownership," the company wrote in a Tuesday statement. This announcement of a "potential sale" comes with the caveat that a transaction may not take place.
Univision acquired Gawker Media by outbidding Ziff Davis with its $135 million offer in August 2016. Days later, Gawker.com shut down in the wake of successful litigation by Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea over the site's report on his mid-2000s sex tape. That court case resulted in a $115 million judgement in Bollea's favor. At that time, various Gawker staffers were absorbed by other Gizmodo Media Group sites, and all of those—Gizmodo, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Splinter, The Root, Kotaku, Earther, and Jalopnik—are now on the auction block.
The GMG acquisition followed Univision's January 2016 purchase of a controlling, 40-percent stake in The Onion, which also included satirical, Buzzfeed-spoofing site Clickhole and media-review outlet The AV Club. In 2013, The Onion and the AV Club became online-only publications.
Tuesday's announcement didn't include any mention of Fusion, the online-only media platform that Univision acquired in early 2016 from Disney. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Fusion has also been considered internally as part of the total sales package.
Seeking comment from Billie Joe Armstrong
In recent weeks, stories about rampant staff buyouts have surfaced at Gizmodo sites, including farewells penned by former Jalopnik staffer Stef Schrader and former Jezebel staffer Kelly Stout. The Onion has now joined this public acknowledgement of internal corporate woe by way of a tongue-in-cheek "we're for sale" announcement post.
In classic Onion style, the AV Club post is ripe with self-deprecation, and it includes direct pleas to "all of the billionaires in our audience, who we have to assume are salivating at the chance to acquire 25 years of hula-hooping Peter Dinklages and comment posts where someone cheerfully yells 'OF COCK!'" Staffer William Hughes namechecks the likes of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla founder Elon Musk, and philanthropist Warren Buffet.
Univision's announcement emerged on the same day as one of the most inadvertently hilarious fact-checking mishaps that has ever involved The Onion: an entire Washington Post article that relied on a Clickhole article about Green Day's song "American Idiot."