Media Fortune Fame & Folly

‘Vice loses SPAC – and founder’

The Information has reported that Vice Media is raising over $85m in fresh capital from existing investors, as talks to IPO via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC)  have ended. As part of the fundraising, Vice’s co-founder, Shane Smith, is said to have agreed to give up his voting control, said the people. He apparently remains chairman of the board at least for now.

The existing investors, which include James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, TPG, TCV and Sixth Street Partners, have agreed to invest in Vice to help it get to profitability. The valuation of the latest round couldn’t be learned. Vice raised money at a $5.7 billion valuation in 2017, but it has (clearly) fallen significantly since then.

The Information says: “Although Vice has never been consistently profitable, CEO Nancy Dubuc (ex A+E Networks) has cut costs and thereby slashed its losses to around $20m in 2020 from around $100m in 2018. Still, the company regularly needs to raise cash. The current fundraising follows Vice’s raising of around $90m last year, also from existing investors. As part of the financing deal, Smith, who stepped down as CEO three years ago in favor of Dubuc, has agreed to give up voting control.”

Meanwhile, Vice has been taking steps to further cut costs. It has just announced a reorganization resulting in 17 layoffs, seven of them reportedly from Refinery29, which the company acquired in 2019. It has 2,200 employees globally. Vice has told investors that revenue next year is forecast at more than $750m (2020: $580m).

The Information