Gawker Media founder Nick Denton is saying goodbye to his former company after broadcaster Univision agreed to acquire the publisher of popular websites such as Gizmodo and Jezebel for $135 million as part of a court-ordered bankruptcy auction.
Univision has agreed to hire 95% of the company’s former employees, but Denton isn’t among them.
However, the Gawker founder does get a consolation prize. According to the acquisition documents, he is to be paid $16,666 a month for the next two years as part of a non-compete clause.
The agreement, which Univision reportedly insisted on as part of the acquisition, says that Denton agrees not to “associate with any business enterprise” that is engaged in the same business as Gawker in either the U.S., Puerto Rico, or Hungary without first getting permission from Univision.
Although most of the content for Gawker Media’s websites was created in New York, where the company recently leased an office near Union Square, much of the web development and technical work behind the sites was done by a separate subsidiary based in Hungary. According to the Wall Street Journal, Denton was paid $500,000 a year by Gawker.
In a farewell letter he wrote to employees of Gawker, which he founded 14 years ago, Denton said that he was getting out of the “news and gossip business.” But he also said he was thinking about moving on to other projects that would involve making the web “a forum for the open exchange of ideas and information.”
Denton added that while the main Gawker.com website was shutting down, it might have a “second act” of some kind in the future, provided “the smoke clears and a new owner can be found.”
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Gawker was forced into bankruptcy protection after former wrestler Hulk Hogan won a $140 million judgment against the company in a privacy-invasion lawsuit. Hogan launched the suit because Gawker published a clip from a sex tape that the wrestler recorded with a friend’s wife.
After the judgment was handed down, it was revealed that PayPal (PYPL) founder and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel had financed the Hogan lawsuit, hoping to drive Gawker out of business for invading people’s privacy. He said he blamed the site for outing him as a gay man in 2007.
In addition to Gawker filing for bankruptcy, Denton also filed for personal bankruptcy because he and two other Gawker editors were named in the Hogan suit and are therefore required to help pay the damages. The Gawker founder listed a 30% stake in Gawker and a New York apartment as his only assets.
Gawker’s Nick Denton just challenged Peter Thiel to a debate. Watch:
The proceeds from the sale of Gawker to Univision will be placed in an escrow account while the company proceeds with an appeal of the Hogan decision. If Hogan wins, he will get the funds from the sale. But if the appeal is successful, Denton and Gawker’s other owners could get some of that money back.
Univision has agreed to buy most of the company’s websites, including Deadspin, Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, and Kotaku. But it didn’t want the main Gawker.com website because that site was associated with the Hogan lawsuit and a number of other unsavory stories.
Once the acquisition is finalized, the Gawker sites will become part of Univision’s Fusion Media Group, which includes the website Fusion—which Univision launched in 2013 in partnership with Disney—as well as the African-American culture site The Root and a stake in the humor site The Onion.
The bankruptcy court still has to approve the non-compete payments to Denton as part of the acquisition agreement, which is expected to close on September 9.