Vice Media to lay off hundreds of workers as digital media outlets implode

Vice Media will no longer publish content on its website, with the former digital media darling joining BuzzFeed in slashing additional staff this week. 

Vice also plans to lay off several hundred workers as it shifts a studio-only business model, CEO Bruce Dixon told employees in a memo delivered late Thursday, the Associated Press reported. The women's lifestyle site Refinery 29 would continue to run, with Vice in advanced talks to sell the business, Dixon told staffers. 

Vice filed for bankruptcy last May before being sold for $350 million to a consortium led by private equity firm Fortress Investment Group, which had been listed as its biggest creditor. Fortress is majority-owned by an Abu Dhabi-based sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment. 

Vice didn't respond to a request for comment. 

Dixon's missive underlines the startling descent for a media firm once acclaimed for its reporting and emulated by larger industry players eager to reach younger audiences. What started off as an alt-music and culture magazine in the 1990s in Montreal at its height had a market valuation of $5.7 billion, before difficulties began piling up, including management conflicts, a sharp slowdown in online ad spending and plunge in traffic stemming from social media platforms.

What is a WARN notice?

In New York, private companies with 50 or more employees are legally required to give at least 90 days notice before a mass layoff. That's defined as involving at least 25 full-time employees who represent at least a third of workers during a six-month period, or at least 250 full-time workers. 

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act also requires employers to provide advance warnings before plants are temporarily or permanently closed or their operations relocated. 

Tech industry reporting more layoffs

Already thinned by multiple rounds of layoffs, BuzzFeed this week said it would sell Complex, a startup company known for covering pop culture, and cut an additional 16% of its staff. Vice and BuzzFeed are among a number of digital outlets announcing layoffs this year. The Messenger closed abruptly in January and Business Insider slashed its staff by 8%. 

Traditional media outlets have also pared their ranks, with most major news publishers confronting sharp drops in online traffic as more online users turned to alternatives including TikTok and Instagram. The list of media players announcing layoffs over the past year includes Condé Nast; Los Angeles Times; Paramount Global, the owner of CBS News; Vox Media; Wall Street Journal; and Washington Post.

Media companies announced more than 21,000 job cuts in in 2023, up 467% from the previous year, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Of those layoffs, nearly 3,100 were in digital, broadcast and print news.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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