Vice’s new owners prepare to cut what’s left of their workforce

Vice’s new owners prepare to cut what’s left of their workforce

Vice Media executives are planning to lay off several hundred more than 900 employees over the next week, eliminating staff from its digital publishing division, according to a company memo sent to staff Thursday by Bruce Dixon, CEO of Vice Media. .

The cuts will be the latest in a series of severe cuts the company has endured in recent years, reducing the global digital colossus to a shell of its former self. Over the past half-decade, Vice has suffered nearly annual layoffs and mounting losses and filed for bankruptcy, making it the poster child for the battered digital media industry.

When Vice emerged from bankruptcy last year, some observers expected its new owners (a consortium led by private equity firm Fortress Investment Group) to reinvest to return the company to growth.

Instead, Fortress has decided to make radical cuts, as part of an attempt to stem the endless tide of red ink. The company plans to inform employees about its new business strategy next week.

Dixon also said in the memo, seen by The New York Times, that the company would no longer publish on

“As we navigate the ever-evolving business landscape, we must adapt and better align our strategies to be more competitive in the long term,” he wrote. She also said Vice was in advanced talks to sell Refinery29, the company’s women-focused publishing division.

The layoffs come amid strong headwinds for the entire media industry. Over the past year, nearly all major news publishers, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Vox Media and The Los Angeles Times, have made cuts to their operations. Web traffic to news organizations has declined precipitously as users spend time with non-traditional media outlets like TikTok and Instagram.

Vice was in poor shape before this series of planned cuts. The company has been put up for sale periodically over the past two years as long-promised profits failed to materialize. As the business environment for digital media became increasingly precarious, executives bet on big, elaborate content deals for clients such as cigarette maker Philip Morris International and Antenna, a Greek media company.

When the deal with Antenna was terminated last year, Vice’s financial situation became desperate and the company fell into bankruptcy. But even after a court-supervised sale process, the company struggled to achieve profitability and bills continued to pile up.

Founded more than two decades ago as a punk magazine in Montreal, Vice rode a rising wave of investments from media heavyweights like A&E Networks, Disney and private equity firm TPG to a valuation of $5.7 billion. But the company suffered a dramatic reversal of fortune and struggled to live up to its spectacular valuation as the digital media market collapsed, leaving its financial backers and employees with no return on their investment.

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John C. Johnson

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