How Nick Denton led Gawker Media from his living room to its $135 million sale

When Nick Denton started Gawker Media out of his living room in SoHo, he probably didn’t envision what would ensue in the following 14 years: a massive internet readership, several spin-off sites, and one very high-profile lawsuit that simultaneously bankrupted the company and Denton himself.

Denton, who currently serves as managing editor of, followed a traditional path into journalism before starting his own venture in 2002. Since then, he’s made millions of dollars (and likely plenty of enemies) in his pursuit of truthful but scathing journalism.

Here’s how Denton grew Gawker from a tiny startup to a million-dollar company and became one of the most controversial figures in media.

While attending Oxford, Denton edited his campus magazine and also held internships at The Evening Standard and Tatler.

Denton began his career covering banking for The Financial Times in London, then moved to San Francisco in the late 90s to cover the tech industry.

He created his first company in 1998: a networking group for the tech industry called First Tuesday, which he founded with three friends from London. They sold the company two years later for millions of dollars.

By 2002, Denton had founded his second company, Gawker Media, with Elizabeth Spiers. Denton ran the company out of his SoHo apartment and told a friend 'If you run it out of your house, then no one expects anything.' Gawker Media began as two websites -- Gawker and Gizmodo. The company employed two freelancers who were paid $12 for each post.

Scott Gries/Getty
Elizabeth Spiers.


When he first founded Gawker, Denton was paying himself a meager annual salary: Up until about 2012, he was making $60,000 a year.

Michael Seto


After claiming they had worked for no pay, three former Gawker Media interns sued Denton and the company in 2013, resulting in a three-year legal battle. In March 2016, a judge ruled in favour of Gawker and Denton.

In the spring of 2014, Denton married actor Derrence Washington at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Getty/Andrew H. Walker

In March 2016, Hulk Hogan was awarded $140 million in damages after having sued Gawker for a 2012 article that contained a clip of Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, having sex with a friend's wife. Bollea initially sent Denton a cease-and-desist letter over the article, but when Gawker refused to pull the story, Bollea sued for invasion of privacy. Denton has stood firm in his belief that the site should have published the video and plans to appeal the verdict.

Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times via Reuters

By May, it was revealed that billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel had been funding Bollea's lawsuit. Thiel says he was outed by Gawker's now-defunct Valleywag site in 2007, adding that Gawker has published stories that have been 'very painful and paralyzing for people who were targeted.'

In June 2016, Gawker Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The move helped the company avoid having its assets seized as it continues to appeal the verdict.

Stephen Yang/New York Post via AP, Pool

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