Gawker Media Sells Idolator, Gridskipper; Spins Off Wonkette

041408 denton web Gawker Media Sells Idolator, Gridskipper; Spins Off WonketteA source deep inside the Gawker Media empire forwards us the news that there are big changes to Nick Denton’s blog empire. In an email message from Mr. Denton to his staff—which he pre-emptively encourages them to leak—he announces a pair of sites being sold another being spun off.

Email from Mr. Denton follows:

I’m amazed we’ve managed to keep a lid on this news; that, given your naturally gossipy natures, must be a first! We’re spinning off three sites: Idolator, Gridskipper and—this one may be a surprise—Wonkette. There were indeed some rumors about Maura Johnston’s music blog late last year; they were true of course. For reasons that I’ll explain below, both it and our travel and politics sites have better commercial futures outside Gawker than within. (Excuse the corporate lingo: some of it is unavoidable.) But, first, the facts, which will be hitting the wires later this morning, or as soon as you leak this email. Go ahead!

* IDOLATOR is going to Buzznet, a music-focused web and social network. Buzznet recently acquired Idolator’s chief rival, Stereogum, and received a big investment from Universal Music Group.

* GRIDSKIPPER isn’t going far: it’s being taken over by Curbed, the network founded by Lockhart Steele, in which Gawker Media is a shareholder.

* WONKETTE is being spun off to the managing editor, Ken Layne, former founder of one of the web’s very first news sites, Tabloid.net. The title will become part of the Blogads network of political sites, which includes Daily Kos, among others.

Why these three sites? To be blunt: they each had their editorial successes; but someone else will have better luck selling the advertising than we did.

Music audiences are fragmented across genres; Maura’s Idolator gave Stereogum a good run, but a group with a whole array of music sites will command more attention from record labels than we could. In the case of Gridskipper, our urban travel guide, we could never match Curbed in attention to city-specific content and advertising. As for Wonkette: political advertisers are a strange breed; they don’t come through the same agencies our sales people deal with.

I’m relieved we’ve found pretty decent homes for the three sites, and most of their writers, but we’re gutted to lose them. Idolator’s Pop Critic’s Poll was a tremendous coup—and Patric’s bleeding-heart logo for the site was one of my favorites. Gridskipper is so far the most sophisticated travel blog: it entirely deserved its inclusion in Time’s list of the 50 coolest websites.