It’s the end of an era… Vice Media has just voluntarily placed itself under the chapter 11 protection bankruptcies.
This alternative media icon, who arrived early on the Web, is not yet dead and buried. A consortium, including Soros Fund Management and Fortress Investment Group, Vice’s main creditor, is expected to take control of the group for $225 million unless a higher offer is made by other parties, according to a company statement.
In the meantime, the company, born almost 30 years ago in Canada in the form of an “underground” magazine, will continue its activities (including its advertising agency Virtue, the Pulse Films or the site focused on women Refinery29, acquired in 2019 etc).
Other buyers could position themselves. “All the international media groups that are interested in young people will undoubtedly look at the file, prognosis Dominique Delport , a member of Vivendi’s supervisory board, who was Vice’s Global Chief Revenue Officer between 2018 and 2021. Vice has an incredible brand. And I have rarely seen so much talent concentrated during my career. For him, this is far from being the end of the adventure. There will be a Chapter 2.
Almost $6 billion at the time
Either way, the Brooklyn-based company will have to agree to no longer be the star it once was with high-profile investors like Disney. In 2017, at the time of the entry of the investment fund TPG, Vice Media, which made its reputation on news and documentaries widely shared on social networks and even awarded, was worth 5.7 billion dollars!
Its value has shrunk dramatically over time. In 2018 and 2019, Disney had written down ets on Vice, reporting that the company was no longer worth anything, in his view.
In any case, this placement in bankruptcy comes after several tumultuous months for this media, aimed at young people combining serious subjects (for example, the youth in Indian Kashmir) and offbeat like “The dance floor also belongs to fat, old and ugly people “.
Thus, Vice has undergone several restructurings. For example, it shut down its flagship television show and laid off more than 100 people at the end of April. He had also stopped its French office this winter leaving about thirty employees on the floor.
In parallel, Buzzfeed, another pure-player which had enjoyed a good rise a few years ago, closed its news site in April, with 180 layoffs.
Vice no doubt pays for its initial model: “addressing a young audience, it did not want to focus its model on payment for information, with a paywall etc. “recalls Dominique Delport.
However, with the deterioration of the economic situation, the advertising market has become tense and is largely captured by the technological giants, like Google and Facebook .
Around 600 million euros in revenue
Vice Media achieved around 600 million euros in turnover in 2022 – roughly the same in recent years -, mostly through advertising, but was not profitable. “The group has spent a lot to internationalize,” adds the specialist. Maybe too fast.
In detail, this Monday, Vice listed ets and liabilities ranging from more than $500 million to $1 billion in its Chapter 11 filing for protection in the Southern District of New York, says the Bloomberg agency. Fortress Credit Corp. is a top secured creditor, with claims totaling approximately $475 million.
Almost all of the company’s international entities and the Vice TV joint venture with A&E are not part of the Chapter 11 listing application, the company said.
In 2016, in an interview with “Echoes” Shane Smith predicted: “In my opinion, titles like the ‘New York Times’ will survive, but a third of the URLs [des sites Internet de contenus, NDLR] Are going to disappear “. He was then far from suspecting that he was potentially talking about his group…