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Vice heading for bankruptcy after once being worth $5.7bn, reports say

Company was once touted as rebelious future of digital media

Josh Dobow
San Francisco
Tuesday 02 May 2023 01:04 BST
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Behind The BuzzFeed News Layoffs and Shutdown

Vice, once heralded as the insurgent leader of a new generation of media companies, is heading for bankruptcy, according to The New York Times.

Two people familiar with Vice operations told the paper the media company is looking for a buyer. Otherwise, the company will have to file for bankruptcy, the unnamed sources said.

“Vice Media Group has been engaged in a comprehensive evaluation of strategic alternatives and planning,” Vice said in a statement on Monday to the Times. “The company, its board and stakeholders continue to be focused on finding the best path for the company.”

The Independent has contacted Vice for comment.

The media company, which got its start as a Canadian alternative publication, eventually became a digital powerhouse known for its in-your-face, youth-focused stories about politics, music, and culture, told across a constellation of websites, films, podcasts, TV shows, the flagship magazine, and eventually a standalone TV network.

Vice News reporters filed memorable documentaries like a report from the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in 2017, as well as reporting gonzo tales like chronicling NBA legend Dennis Rodman’s visit to North Korea.

A 2017 investment round led by TPG once valued the company at $5.7bn. More recently, the company was thought to be worth less than $1bn, according to reports earlier this year about the company’s potential search for a buyer.

Despite receiving acclaim for its unique style of storytelling, as well investments from marquee names like Disney and Fox, the company has continued to struggle financially.

Last week, the company announced it would cancel its flagship “Vice News Tonight” show and lay off dozens of employees amid a larger corporate restructuring, the latest in a bruising season of media layoffs that saw cuts at Insider, NPR, Paper magazine, and the demise of Buzzfeed News.

That follows reports that the Vice got an emergency $30m in financing to pay off a growing number of debts.

In February, Vice Media chief executive Nancy Dubuc left the company.

The company fell short of a 2022 revenue goal by more than $100m, The Wall Street Journal reported in December.

The previous year, the company scuttled plans to go public through a special purpose acquisition company.

In addition to its financial woes, Vice has been plagued by scandals, with critics charging the company’s anti-establishment ethos at times covered up a corporate culture rife with abuse.

An investigation by The New York Times uncovered four settlements involving allegations of sexual harassment or defamation, as well more than two dozen women who told the company of experiencing or witnessing sexual harassment.

Gavin McInnes, one of the original founders of Vice in the mid-1990s, eventually went on to found the Proud Boys right-wing street gang.

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