Feb 24, 2023 - Economy

Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc to depart

Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

Nancy Dubuc is leaving Vice Media after five years as CEO, she told staffers Friday in an email obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Dubuc's departure comes as Vice continues to borrow money while searching for a buyer.

  • Vice raised more than $30 million in debt financing from Fortress Investment Group earlier this month. The company revisited its sale process in January amid stalled talks with Saudi-backed Greek broadcaster Antenna Group.

Catch up quick: Dubuc joined Vice in 2018 after nearly two decades with A+E Networks, including a four-year stint as CEO. She replaced Vice co-founder Shane Smith, who departed amid allegations of sexual harassment at the company.

  • At the time, Vice was valued at more than $5 billion. But soon after, Vice's growth began to stall and investors became skittish.
  • In late 2018, Disney wrote down $157 million of its initial $400 million investment in Vice. Months later, Dubuc laid off 10% of staffers amid a broader restructuring.
  • Vice's 2018 revenues were reportedly between $600 million and $650 million. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that its revenues were $600 million in 2022.

Details: In her email, Dubuc said she was "proud to leave a Vice better than the one I joined."

  • "Together we racked up incredible wins while tackling unprecedented macroeconomic headwinds caused by the pandemic, the war in the Ukraine, and the economy all which forced us to pivot, refocus and pivot again," she said.
  • "We reduced overhead by half and yet improved the quality of our revenues through both increased profitability and growth of returning revenues," she wrote. "As we face new headwinds in the marketplace Vice is now less ad dependent, and our gross margins have more than doubled."

The big picture: Today's economic climate has created a stalemate between digital media firms and potential buyers over valuations and deal terms.

  • Many companies are turning down buyout offers, hoping they can wait out the economic slowdown by raising money and implementing cost-cutting measures.
  • Vox Media raised $100 million from Penske Media Corp. earlier this month, despite buyout offers.

What's next: In a statement, Vice Media's board of directors thanked Dubuc and said it would soon announce new leadership to guide Vice "into its next stage of growth and transformation."

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