The News


“After being perceived as the red-hot center of Millennial-based media culture for the past decade, Vice’s place is harder to pinpoint. Some of it is still edgy and provocative. But increasingly the impact of its work feels like the proverbial tree falling in the forest. On top of that, there is the brain drain, along with the ongoing existential advertising crisis across much of digital media—all of which has many investors wondering what the deal is with Vice these days. The answer depends on whom you ask. Top executives at Vice tell you the present is pretty damn fabulous, while the best is yet to come. Former employees—or at least those willing to speak out despite confidentiality provisions in their contracts—say Vice is an unmitigated disaster and it’s only a matter of time before TPG, its private-equity overlord, takes control of the company and tries to salvage what it can of its $450 million preferred-stock investment, made in June 2017 at an ungodly valuation of $5.7 billion. Those who remain at Vice—it claims to be the world’s largest youth-media company, reaching 390 million people a month—now work in five business lines. There’s a so-called digital business that produces 1,700 pieces of content a day—Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube videos, plus written editorials—for and affiliated sites in 35 countries around the world. It is supported, as best as can be expected these days, by digital advertising and content production. There is a nightly news program, formerly on HBO, that is now on its own streaming channel, Vice TV, and a weekly nonfiction series on Showtime. The fully distributed cable-television channel has more than 30 million monthly viewers and is distributed in France, Australia and the U.K. Its fourth business line, Vice Studios and Pulse Films, produces feature-length films such as The Report, about U.S. torture policies in Iraq, which starred Adam Driver. The unit also makes commercials, including the Emmy-nominated ad “Bounce,” for Apple AirPods. Vice’s fifth line of business is Virtue, an ad agency, which does work for Cholula Hot Sauce, among others.”

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