MANILA, Philippines – Vice Media filed for bankruptcy on Monday, May 15, the New York Times reports, an improbable fate for a media company that once captured the attention of millions of millennials for its fresh, brazen reporting, that allowed it to capture a valuation of $5.7 billion at its peak.
The Times also reports that daily operations at Vice’s businesses will continue in spite of the bankruptcy filing. A group of Vice lenders such as the Fortress Investment Group and Soros Fund Management, is known to be the top candidate for acquiring the company out of bankruptcy, with a bid of $225 million.
The Times calls Vice’s fate, “among the most notable bad bets in the media industry” with investments from the likes of Disney and other groups in the hundreds of millions of dollars, going to nothing.
Building a huge audience from the young, emerging demographic of millennials, Vice drew a lot of investor attention, and took in private money including a $400 million investment from private equity group TPG in 2017, a group which the Times described as “shrewd.” Unfortunately, the deal came with aggressive profitability targets that the media group wasn’t able to reach.
Another problem was that while Vice had the audience, much of the ad money was still going to the tech platforms, making it hard for media companies, even ones coming in with massive audiences, to be profitable.
Prior to the bankruptcy, Vice laid off more than 100 workers in April, the same month that other online former upstarts, BuzzFeed announced the closure of BuzzFeed News, while Insider laid off 10% of its workforce – part of a broader trend of media closures and layoffs in 2023. – Rappler.com
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