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Vice Media, once a digital media darling, is bankrupt

Vice Media, once a digital video upstart formerly valued at nearly $6 billion, on Monday filed for bankruptcy protection.

Vice launched in Montreal, Canada, in 1994 as a free magazine focused on alternative music and culture. Backed by money from other media companies as well as blue-chip Silicon Valley investors, the company eventually branched into online video and documentaries catering to millennials. 

Vice moved its headquarters to New York City and grew so quickly that co-founder Shane Smith once quipped that the company would use its ample funding to pursue "total media domination." Its popularity led to a deal with HBO, with Vice News Tonight starting in 2016 as a newscast on the cable network. While that deal ended in 2019, the show had aired until recently on Vice TV, according to Bloomberg.

The media company will continue to produce content and "operate normally" as it proceeds with the bankruptcy, according to Vice News. Still, the company made cutbacks in recent weeks, shuttering its Vice World News and canceling Vice News Tonight, which led to more than 100 job cuts, the site noted.

A group of the news company's investors, including Soros Fund Management and Fortress Investment Group, has made a $225 million offer to buy the business out of bankruptcy, according to the New York Times. Fortress is listed as Vice's largest creditor in the bankruptcy filing, with a claim of about $475 million.

According to its Chapter 11 filing, Vice has assets and liabilities ranging from $500 million to $1 billion.

Vice is the second digital news venture to go bust in recent weeks. In April BuzzFeed moved to pull the plug on its news operation and laid off 180 workers amid a sharp drop in the company's growth.

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