Anonymous sources familiar with the Vice Media Group's financial straits confirmed to other media outlets that the company is currently in negotiations with potential buyers, but these talks reportedly bogged down because Vice Media executives are struggling to get a price of more than $1 billion, which would just be enough to pay off all of the company's debts. Unfortunately, such a hefty price tag is making the chance of a successful sale increasingly remote.
Should Vice Media be unable to sell itself to a new company, its largest debt holder, Fortress Investment Group – from which Vice raised more than $30 million in debt financing – would take control of the media outlet and likely run an auction to sell it and recoup the investment company's losses.
In a statement, a Vice Media Group spokesperson said the company "has been engaged in a comprehensive evaluation of strategic alternatives and planning. The company, its board and stakeholders continue to be focused on finding the best path for the company."
The company is also reportedly exploring the possibility of selling itself off in pieces. Some of its assets include Refinery29, a female-focused digital media and entertainment brand; Virtue, an in-house marketing agency; I-D, a fashion and culture platform; and Vice Studios, Vice Media's video production arm. Successfully selling off some or all of these assets could help keep the company's head above water, but only for a short time.
Vice used to be known as one of the most successful news startups of all time. Founded in 1994 in Montreal, Canada, it was quickly able to raise $4 million from a wealthy investor, after which it moved its headquarters to New York City.
Over the years, Vice was then able to raise well over $1 billion in financing from investors, including A&E Networks, which owns around 20 percent of Vice Media, The Walt Disney Company, which owns 16 percent, and 21st Century Fox, which has a minority stake in the company.
At its peak in 2017, Vice's investors pegged the company's worth at around $5.7 billion. But things have taken a turn for the worse since then. That year, the company reportedly missed its revenue target of $800 million by more than $100 million.
The following year, Disney wrote down $157 million of its initial $400 million investment in Vice, which led to 10 percent of staff being laid off amid a broader restructuring.
Since this initial restructuring, Vice has been trying to manage costs through layoffs, other restructurings and debt fundraising. In 2019, Vice Media was able to raise $250 million in debt financing, with Fortress Investment being the largest financier.
But none of these efforts have resulted in fast enough growth to pay out to its lenders. In 2022, Vice's revenues were roughly $600 million, around the same amount it earned in 2018 and not enough to keep the company from sinking.
Other digital media companies that were able to rapidly expand and raise lots of cash at high valuations in the early 2010s have also struggled recently to remain profitable amid a dramatically changed media landscape.
Just days before, BuzzFeed shuttered its own news division and laid off 180 people tied to that division, accounting for about 10 percent of the company's total staff. Three months before, another online news company, Vox, laid off around seven percent of its staff, or 130 people. (Related: Left-wing FAKE NEWS BuzzFeed News shuts down after running out of money.)
Learn more about other mainstream media outlets at MediaFactWatch.com.
Watch this episode of "The American Journal" on InfoWars as host Harrison Smith and Vice co-founder Gavin McInnes discuss Vice Media's looming bankruptcy.