By the numbers: Where did it all go wrong for Vice Media?

Investing

Vice Media Group officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month, marking a dramatic collapse for a company that investors valued at US$5.7 billion (AU$8.5b) just six years ago.
Image: Getty

The bankruptcy proceedings cap off a dramatic collapse for a company that was once valued at $5.7 billion in 2017 after reportedly having turned down a $3.5 billion acquisition offer from Disney a year earlier. In the past few years, however, Vice had struggled to consistently turn a profit and even missed its revenue projection for 2022 by $100 million.

Related

Big Numbers
  • $3.5 billion: What Disney wanted to acquire Vice for in 2016, per an Insider report, but it was not enough for Smith (Disney had invested $400 million in Vice at that point.)
  • $5.7 billion: That’s what Vice was valued at at its peak in 2017 after turning down Disney’s offer and receiving a $450 million investment from private equity group TPG.
  • $1 billion: That’s how much CEO and founder of Vice Shane Smith was estimated to be worth at the company’s peak in 2017, putting him on the Forbes Billionaire List that year.
  • $100 million: Semafor reported in March that Smith cashed out about $100 million of his own shares of Vice in 2014 when A&E and Crossover Ventures invested a total of $500 million in Vice in a 2014 deal “that made him post-economic.”
  • 3,000: This is about how many employees Vice Media had at its peak in 2017 when it was valued at almost $6 billion, though it still had layoffs that year that impacted 2% of its workforce while the company attempted to expand internationally and improve video products. (More recent reports have total employees down to half of that.)
  • $1.875 million: In 2019, Vice paid this much to roughly 675 former staffers as settlement in a class-action lawsuit alleging the company regularly paid women less than men, according to Variety.
  • $100 million: This is how much Vice Media missed its revenue target by in 2022, according to a report from The Wrap.
  • $400 million: Group Black, ​​a company investing in Black-owned businesses, submitted this offer to buy Vice in March, according to WSJ, but the deal hasn’t yet panned out, and Vice is still looking for a buyer (or multiple buyers) as it prepares to file for bankruptcy.
  • $30 million: That’s how much Vice received in debt financing from Fortress Investment Group earlier this year, according to the Wall Street Journal, with people familiar with the situation telling the Journal that Vice owed millions of dollars to vendors and advisers, including some who had not been paid for at least six months.
  • $300,000: That’s how much Smith in January 2015 spent on a dinner at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas with a group including Vice executives, staff members and friends—who reportedly reportedly drank bottles of wine that cost upwards of $20,000 each—and supposedly came after Smith won $1 million gambling.
  • $135,000: This is how much Vice settled a 2016 sexual harassment lawsuit by one of the company’s female employees against then-president Andrew Creighton (Creighton later stepped down in 2018).

This story was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.


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