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Vice Media layoffs: 15% of staff nixed, lower revenue, traffic slump

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Nancy Dubuc
Vice Media CEO Nancy
Dubuc

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  • Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc, who took over for Shane
    Smith in March is slimming down some staff at the digital
    publisher, The Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The Brooklyn-based company is reportedly shedding 10 to
    15% of its workforce and is on track to miss its revenue goals
    for this year.
  • Vice Media had 27 million unique visitors in September,
    down from 49.1 million
    in March 2016,
    according to comscore. 

Nancy Dubuc, Vice Media’s CEO who replaced
Shane Smith
in March, is making cuts at the digital
publisher.

According
to a report
from The Wall Street Journal, Brooklyn-based Vice
Media is lowering its headcount by 10 to 15% of its workforce and
is on track to miss its revenue goals for this year.

To make the cuts, Dubuc ordered a companywide hiring freeze six
weeks ago and plans to trim staff through both the freeze and
other gradual cuts.

Vice Media had 27 million unique visitors in September, down from
49.1 million
in March 2016,
according to comscore. In
addition to measuring traffic to Vice’s websites, its comScore
number also includes traffic from websites like SEO-focused
Ranker, Metalinjection.net and
ModernFarmer.com.

Per the report, Vice Media is expected to make $600 to $650
million this year, which is flat with its 2017 revenue. The
company reportedly is on track to lose more than $50 million this
year in addition to losing $100 million in 2017.

“At a time of seismic change across the media landscape, Vice has
never been better positioned to continue its remarkable growth,
further cementing its status as one the most impactful and
innovative youth brands worldwide,” the company’s board of
directors said in a statement. “From its deep library of
critically-acclaimed programming, to its diversified revenue
streams and channels across digital, mobile, television, film and
branded content, Vice’s audience has never been bigger, more
global, more diverse or younger.”

Vice’s web audience is shrinking

Vice Media has built scale in digital media by focusing its
coverage on specific verticals like Noisey (which covers music),
Broadly (for women), Munchies (for
food) and Vice News. Duboc reportedly plans to fold several of
its existing verticals together to form three to five core
verticals, according to The Wall Street Journal’s sources.

Instead of focusing on web publishing, Vice Media plans to beef
up its television and movie business to make third-party
programming.

Vice’s in-house agency Virtue
(formerly Carrot)
is also a priority.

Virtue recently
signed a deal
with entertainment brand El Rey to launch an
agency catering specifically to the US Hispanic market.

According to a recent interview
with The Hollywood Reporter,
Vice Media is preparing to
launch a live news show called “Viceland Live” on Viceland, the
channel operated by A+E Networks. Vice’s current weekly show on
HBO is also in the process of winding down this season.

Duboc came into Vice Media earlier this year amid
sexual-harassment allegations and financial concerns over
whether or not the digital media company can live up to its $5.7
billion valuation, including
a $450 million
investment from private equity firm TPG last
year.

“Of course, there’s pressure,” Duboc told The Hollywood
Reporter. “Like any good Hollywood story, people look for the
Caped Crusader. The reality is never as simple.”

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