Web entrepreneur Denton is the founder of Gawker Media, a collection of nine blogs covering niches ranging from media gossip to gadgets to porn.
Born and raised in England—his dad was an English economics professor, his mom a Hungarian Jewish psychotherapist—Denton studied economics at Oxford before moving to Eastern Europe, where he worked as a stringer for various British papers in the early 1990s. He landed a full-time gig with the Financial Times and covered investment banking in Europe, a stint that led to the publication of a book, 1996's All That Glitters: The Fall of Barings. Denton then decamped to San Francisco, covering the burgeoning tech scene for the FT, but as the late '90s dotcom economy heated up, he ditched journalism to found two companies with two sets of friends: a news aggregator called Moreover Technologies; and First Tuesday, a networking group that hosted events for tech entrepreneurs.
First Tuesday eventually expanded to more than 100 cities during the boom times and Denton and his partners were wise enough to sell out at the height of the bubble in 2000, unloading the company to an Israeli firm for $50 million in cash and stock. (The stock later became almost worthless when the Israeli company was liquidated.) A year later, Denton stepped aside as the CEO of Moreover and moved to New York. (The upstart was sold to Verisign in 2005 for some $30 million.) Turning his attention to the nascent blogging movement, in 2002 he founded Gawker Media with the launch of two blogs, the media-obsessed Gawker.com and the gadget site Gizmodo.com.
These days Denton controls a big bunch of highly-trafficked blogs: In addition to the first two properties, Gawker and Gizmodo, the company now publishes Jezebel (women), Lifehacker (tech advice), Jalopnik (autos), Kotaku (videogames), Fleshbot (porn), Deadspin (sports), and io9.com, a sci-fi site that launched in January of 2008. With more than 60 editorial employees—and with annual revenue in excess $20 million—Gawker represents one of the most successful blog networks.
Not every site Denton touches turns to gold, though. Kinja.com, a news aggregator that Denton launched with Pyra Labs founder Meg Hourihan in 2004, never managed to gain critical mass. A gambling blog, Oddjack, was shuttered in late 2005 after it failed to catch on. And a news site called Sploid suffered a similar fate. In early 2008, Denton sold off three of his less successful properties, including Wonkette, Idolator, and Gridskipper. (The latter was offloaded to his former protégé, Lockhart Steele.) Denton made another round of changes in late 2008 and early 2009 when he sold off Consumerist.com to the publisher of Consumer Reports, and folded Defamer.com and Valleywag.com into Gawker proper.
On the job
Gaby Darbyshire, a longtime friend, is Denton's in-house lawyer and business development head. Ad impresario Chris Batty runs the company's sales department and keeps the coffers full. Until June 2007, Lockhart Steele looked after the company's editorial activities; he now tends to his own burgeoning blog business at Curbed.com (in which Denton is an investor).
Denton is single and lives in a loft on Spring Street, located across the street from Balthazar. The apartment, which he purchased for $1.87 million in 2004, is a few floors down from Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos.