VICE Media, Once Valued at $6 Billion, Files For Bankruptcy

Haley Kennington

Vice Media, a company once valued at nearly $6 billion, will reportedly file for bankruptcy in the coming weeks.

According to the New York Times, there are several buyers interested in purchasing the global media company. However, parties familiar with the matter said the chances of that becoming a reality are becoming “increasingly slim.”

Shane Smith founded the company in 1994 in Montreal, Canada, alongside Suroosh Alvi and firebrand Gavin McInnes. Vice was originally a magazine that highlighted the punk rock music scene and rabid street culture of the young and hip.

Early Vice magazine cover.

McInnes left Vice in 2008, citing creative differences.

As far back as 2019, Disney invested over $400 million into Vice Media, before quickly realizing it was a poor decision.

The Walt Disney Company’s quarterly filing in March 2019 described the investment as “an impairment charge,” noting it would be listed as a “write-down.”

The Hollywood Reporter covered the story in 2019 saying, “The Nancy Dubuc-led company has secured $250 million in debt from investment firm 23 Capital as well as billionaire George Soros’ firm, Soros Fund Management, and investment groups Fortress and Monroe Capital.”

Dubac left Vice Media in February 2023, after five years of serving as CEO.

She joined Vice in 2018 and succeeded the company’s co-founder, Shane Smith. Smith resigned as CEO following a New York Times investigation of the outlet’s “workplace culture.”

Vice Media’s former global head of news and entertainment, Jesse Angelo also left the company this year.

A statement from the company on Monday noted, “Its board and stakeholders continue to be focused on finding the best path for the company.”

“In the event of a bankruptcy, Vice’s largest debtholder, Fortress Investment Group, could end up controlling the company, said one of the people. Vice would continue operating normally and run an auction to sell the company over a 45-day period, with Fortress in pole position as the most likely acquirer.”

Just last week, Vice Media canceled its Vice News Tonight program and laid off more than 100 employees.

The Wall Street Journal reported that CEOs Hozefa Lokhandwala and Bruce Dixon said the company “needed to accelerate its transition toward platforms such as Paramount Global’s Paramount+with Showtime,” in addition to on-demand social media like TikTok and YouTube.

Vice Media allegedly secured an additional $30 million in debt financing earlier this year.

Vice’s shutdown comes on the heels of another media company that recently dissolved. BuzzFeed announced in mid-April they would be shuttering their news division and axing 15 percent of employees on the spot, as previously reported by The Publica.

Digital-based media companies have had a difficult time keeping up with the ever-changing climate of online content for their audiences.

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