Why investors are throwing money at Vice

Vice Media, a brash, take-no-prisoners news and entertainment company that has captivated millennial viewers, now has a lot more money to fuel its massive expansion plans.

The company said it has received $500 million in funding from A&E Networks and investment firm Technology Crossover Ventures. Each investor will pay $250 million for a 10 percent stake in Vice, valuing the company at $2.5 billion. The investments were first reported late last month and confirmed by Vice on Thursday.

The deals come days after another news and entertainment site, BuzzFeed, said it received a $50 million investment from Andreesen Horowitz, a well-known venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. The deal valued BuzzFeed at about $850 million, according to reports.

The investments signal a renaissance of sorts for the beleaguered media industry. Each company says it reaches more than 150 million people a month, and each is building upon its fast-growing online platform by expanding into traditional media.

BuzzFeed has created a motion-picture division to produce serialized content, full-length movies and short-form video. Vice already has an HBO show. Now, the investment from A&E Networks likely expands its move into television on A&E, which broadcasts to about 98 million households.

Vice co-founder Shane Smith quipped in a news release that the deals will help the company's "relentless quest for total media domination." Some of the money will be used for mobile distribution, the company said.

Vice started as a free punk magazine in Montreal 20 years ago, The New York Times reported. It took its operations online and moved into video, particularly with attention-grabbing documentaries.

Vice has convinced traditional media companies that it has figured out how to appeal to millennials, The Times reports. Its audience is mostly male.

The company's website describes itself as "the definitive guide to enlightening information." Its most popular features Thursday included articles about pro wrestling, robot labor, a midget James Bond and using human DNA to make cheese. The New Yorker this is not. But according to the investing world, Vice could be the future.

  • Kim Peterson

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