Vice Media is cutting its staff by up to 15% amid missed revenue and a traffic slump

John Sciulli/Getty ImagesVice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc.
  • Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc, who took over for Shane Smith in March, is cutting staff at the digital publisher, The Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The Brooklyn, New York-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, New York-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 attrition.

Vice Media had 27 million unique visitors in September, down from 49.1 million in March 2016, according to Comscore. Vice Media’s total Comscore numbers each month comprises traffic from its own properties plus third-party websites like SEO-focused Ranker, Metal Injection, and Modern Farmer.

According to the report, Vice Media is expected to make between $US600 million and $US650 million this year, which is flat with its 2017 revenue. It reportedly is on track to lose more than $US50 million this year, in addition to losing $US100 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. Dubuc 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 to the Hispanic market in the US.

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

Dubuc took over Vice Media earlier this year amid sexual-harassment allegations and financial concerns over whether the digital-media company could live up to its $US5.7 billion valuation, including a $US450 million investment from private-equity firm TPG last year.

“Of course, there’s pressure,” Dubuc 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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