Vice is laying off hundreds, cutting weekly HBO show, reorganizing *UPDATE #1*

Update #1: 2:55pm

It is starting to seem like some of Vice’s vertical may continue.

Here’s Waypoint EIC Austin Walker pushing back against a Digiday report that claimed Waypoint was going to be consolidated or shut down:

At the same time, an email to the news staff by Vice’s President of Digital implies some form of consolidation among the verticals:

“…we are now exploring the right way to further strengthen and support our VICE coverage under a new unified brand architecture. Over the next many weeks, we will be sharing more details on how our site UX, category coverage and brands will develop – bringing all of our passion points under our core expression: news, culture, opinion, food, music, gaming, money, sports, health... any topics we know younger generations seek and where we can set new standards across editorial, video and multiplatform. We will invest and staff around this.”

More updates as they come. For now, the original post is below.


Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc announced today in an internal memo that the company will be reorganizing and laying off ten percent of its staff, around 250 people. The news comes after a particularly brutal month for the journalism industry; Buzzfeed, AOL/Yahoo, Garnett, and McCarthy have shed a combined 1,850 jobs since the start of the year.

According to Dubuc’s memo, published in full by Splinter, the cuts come as Vice attempts to organize itself into a more coherent organization, instead of siloing off departments in various different international offices.1 She describes this attempt at unity as One Vice, a vision exemplified by that Viceland live show that is starting any day now for an audience of hundreds.

Very little details are currently know about what parts of Vice will be hardest hit. In her memo, Dubuc points to the news organization’s Emmy wins, advertising partnerships, and Vice’s nascent film studio as examples of what’s working, so you can probably speculate those will be mostly okay. However, multiple outlets are reporting that the Vice weekly news show on HBO will be ending, with some staff moving over to the still-continuing nightly news show.

An aspect of the company that wasn’t mentioned in the memo: Vice’s digital outlets, which include Motherboard, Vice Sports, Waypoint, Broadly, and others. Digiday is reporting a source told them the digital layoffs will be a “bloodbath.” These verticals have been rumored to be on the chopping block since Dubuc took over from Chief Cocaine Boy Shane Smith last year.

Vice is the original “grow rapidly, make money later” media entity. Much of it was built on bullshit posturing. Now, Vice is facing investors that are getting tired of not turning a profit, and dreams of a Disney buyout are long dead. In a story we’ve become all too familiar with in media, it appears that the staff will now face the consequences of upper management’s poor decisions.

Cuts are happening today, I’ll be keeping an eye open and updating this post as information becomes available. In the meantime, you can read Dubuc’s full letter below:

Dear VICE,

We’ve all been working hard over the past several months to ensure that VICE the brand, the community, and the cultural force continues to grow to achieve our creative and business goals and we are already seeing progress.

This past weekend, VICE Studios’ film The Report made headlines with one of the largest sales in Sundance history, and our must-watch documentary Fyre on Netflix continues to garner rave reviews and attention. The launch of VICE Live later this month will bring together our vision of One VICE, creatively capitalizing on the incredible multiplatform value we can unlock for audiences and advertisers. We are having partnership conversations around digital extensions of Live with several social platforms. This is on top of our already impressive momentum, ending the year with double-digit traffic increases in views, watch time and subscribers across the digital business.

Virtue is seen as a go-to shop for brand strategy and creative excellence among the largest of blue chip brands, having attracted 20 major new clients in 2018. And our News team continues their run, with more Emmy nominations and wins this year than any other nightly show as well as a stellar delivery of the El Chapo trial on its Spotify podcast.

Having finalized the 2019 budget, our focus shifts to executing our goals and hitting our marks. We will make VICE the best manifestation of itself and cement its place long into the future. To this end, we’ve had to make hard but necessary operating decisions. Starting today, the next phase of our plan begins as we reorganize our global workforce. Unfortunately, this means we will have to say goodbye to some of our VICE colleagues.

In this strategic restructure, some departments will get smaller while others will expand. Rather than organize VICE by country, we are creating a new operating structure around global lines of business—Studios, News, Digital, TV and Virtue. Support functions such as Sales, Legal, Communications, Marketing, IT, HR, Business Development and Brand Strategy will report into Brooklyn, or a designated central hub.

This shift centralizes many roles and eliminates overlap. It touches everyone at VICE— from finance to TV and editorial to IT — all departments at every level will see some impact. While this makes us a stronger business going forward, it is difficult for all of us to go through and we do not make these decisions lightly. We need to operate more nimbly, focusing our energies and investments on core strengths— on our terms, in our own way.

Our leadership and HR business partners will meet with individuals affected by this reorganization today in the U.S., U.K. and Mexico. Over the coming weeks, we will be finalizing plans with other regions following local regulatory policies. There are a significant number of open positions coming online to help us expand where needed and we encourage you to discuss those with your HR business partner. Some areas of expected growth include Sales, Studios, VICE News digital and Virtue in many markets.

We are fortunate that VICE’s early diversification has made us more resilient to a shifting industry. VICE isn’t a logo—it’s people. Everyone who walks through our doors gives a part of themselves to do something different. You make sure we don’t conform. You bring your ideas and reckon with the weird and often messed up world around us. You dare.

Saying thank you can never express the depths of gratitude I have for the contributions you have made. Change is always hard, but this is VICE and I’m confident that we will all come together to make this a transition bound by respect, support and compassion.

Thank you,

Nancy

  1. This would appear to be something of a trend in these stories; Buzzfeed’s layoffs last week were particularly brutal to their international offices.
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