Gawker Casts Off Three Blogs, Including Wonkette

In anticipation of a slowing online ad market, Gawker Media is again tidying up its portfolio with the sale of three blogs.

Music blog Idolator is being sold to music community Buzznet, while its urban travel guide Gridskipper is being taken over by the Curbed Network--a collection of neighborhood blogs partially owned by Gawker Media.

In what will come as a surprise to many, however, Gawker is also spinning off political blog Wonkette--one of its original and best-performing properties, particularity in the run-up to the coming presidential election. In March, the site logged a record 5.8 million page views.

The site is being taken over by managing editor, Ken Layne, and will join the BlogAds network of political sites, which includes the popular liberal blog Daily Kos.

In an internal email to staff on Monday, Gawker Media founder and publisher Nick Denton had two explanations for this latest pruning: What he perceives to be another economic bubble in online media, and his failure to effectively monetize the three sites.

"Since the middle of 2006, when we sold off (humor site) Screenhead, shuttered (tabloid news site) Sploid and declared we were 'hunkering down,' we've been waiting for the internet bubble to burst," Denton said. "No, really, this time. And, even if not, better safe than sorry; and better too early than too late."

Either way, the sites "have better commercial futures outside Gawker than within," Denton admitted. "To be blunt: they each had their editorial successes; but someone else will have better luck selling the advertising than we did."

On turning Idolator over to Buzznet, Denton said: "A group with a whole array of music sites will command more attention from record labels than we could."

Financial details were not disclosed, but Buzznet--which recently raised $25 million to spend on new acquisitions--just spent about $5 million on Idolator's chief rival, Stereogum.

Regarding Gridskipper, Denton said: "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," he said.

Today, Gawker sites are still growing in traffic by about 90% a year, according to Denton.

The company's remaining dozen sites represent some 97% of its 228 million monthly page-views per month, "and an even higher proportion of our growth and advertising revenue," he said.

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