Vice Media Puts Freeze on Hiring, Consolidates Some Sites

(Bloomberg) -- Vice Media, a youth-focused news company coping with a challenging digital-media industry, is freezing hiring and consolidating some of its sites, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The company isn’t planning layoffs, but it will be merging some of its so-called verticals -- sites focused on certain topics -- said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. Vice won’t be eliminating coverage of any news areas, the person said.

Vice is expecting sales of $600 million to $650 million this year, according to the Wall Street Journal, which said the company aims to eliminate about 15 percent of its workforce through attrition. The person close to the matter said that attrition target wasn’t accurate, but declined to elaborate.

This year’s revenue is expected to be roughly flat from 2017 and $100 million below a forecast provided last year to TPG, a private equity backer that assigned a $5.7 billion valuation to Vice, the Journal said. Vice, which lost more than $100 million last year, is on pace for a deficit of more than $50 million in 2018, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified people close to the matter.

In a statement to Bloomberg News, Vice’s board struck an upbeat tone, saying the company is still positioned for growth, despite “seismic change across the media landscape.”

“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,” the board said.

Vice operates the cable TV network Viceland and oversees a news program on HBO. It also produces online videos and news stories. Earlier this year, Vice tapped A+E Television Networks executive Nancy Dubuc to lead the company and pushed co-founder Shane Smith up to the role of executive chairman.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.