Vice to Layoff More Employees, Shutter Primary Website

The hits keep coming for online media sites. Last year Buzzfeed News announced it was shutting down for good (though the listicles are still there). Just a few weeks later we learned that Vice News was headed for bankruptcy. It was eventually acquired at a discount price by a group of investment firms.


Vice Media, the once-high flying digital media company valued at billions of dollars, is set to be acquired out of bankruptcy by three investment companies, including Fortress Investment Group, for $350 million.

The acquisition of the one-time media powerhouse by its three creditors — made up of Fortress, Soros Fund Management and Monroe Capital — is set to take place after Vice said in a legal filing Thursday that it received no other satisfactory bids as it explored a sale for the company...

The acquisition agreement is the latest in a tumultuous period for Vice Media, which was once held up as the future of the business. In recent years, Vice Media has failed to live up to the lofty expectations that it — and the industry — set for the company, which was once valued at more than $5 billion.

So as of last summer there was hope that the company would somehow turn things around but it hasn't worked out that way. Today the CEO of the company sent a memo around announcing more layoffs and what sounds like the end of the company's primary website.

In a memo to Vice employees Thursday, CEO Bruce Dixon said the company will be cutting “several hundred” jobs in the next week.

As part of its major restructuring, Vice will discontinue publishing content on its own website,, and will instead put “more emphasis on our social channels as we accelerate our discussions with partners to take our content to where it will be viewed most broadly,” Dixon wrote in the memo.

“We create and produce outstanding original content true to the Vice brand. However, it is no longer cost-effective for us to distribute our digital content the way we have done previously. Moving forward, we will look to partner with established media companies to distribute our digital content, including news, on their global platforms, as we fully transition to a studio model,” the CEO continued.


As you can probably imagine, company morale is not very high at the moment. Some compared working there to playing violin on the deck of the Titanic.

Ahead of the announcement Thursday, the mood inside Vice Media was grim. Staffers struggled to work amid rumors circulating about the outlet’s fate, likening doing so to “the violinists playing aboard the sinking Titanic.”

“I think most of us have seen the writing on the wall: there are simply not enough lifeboats, and highly unlikely that the skeleton crew of us on digital news will be invited onboard one,” one employee said.

A senior Vice staffer said the news was “crushing.”

"It’s devastating to have a group of reporters who have made such a significant impact in the world have their jobs end in this way,” the person said.

A Vice-owned site for women, Refinery 29, will continue to publish but the company is already in talks to sell it.

Refinery29, the company’s women’s lifestyle brand, will continue to operate as a “standalone diversified digital publishing business,” Dixon said, though executives are in “advanced discussions to sell this business, and we are continuing with that process.” (Vice acquired Refinery29 in 2019.)

I've never been a regular reader of Vice News so this doesn't impact me personally. Still it's hard to watch people losing their jobs and not feel a bit of concern about the industry in general. It's not just upstart online news sites like Buzzfeed and Vice feeling the pinch, even big newspapers like the LA Times are laying off staff. Running a news site these days is definitely not for the faint of heart. 


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