After weeks of speculation, Vice Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday to help the sale of the company go smoothly.
Bloomberg reported that Vice listed both assets and liabilities in the range of more than $500 million to as much as $1 billion in a Chapter 11 petition filed in a New York court. Bloomberg reports that Fortress Credit Corp. among the largest secured creditors, with claims totaling approximately $475 million.
In the face of a weak advertising market and a turbulent economy, Vice, like other digital media darlings BuzzFeed and Vox Media, has struggled to control costs and grow revenues.
Filing for bankruptcy is a new low for a company that was once one of the most popular media brands in the world, boasting investments from the likes of traditional media powerhouses Fox Corp. and disney.
Founded as a print magazine in Montreal in 1994 by Shane Smith, Suroosh Alvi and Gavin McInnes, Vice impressed with gonzo journalism, dark travelogues, tongue-in-cheek humor and photography by the likes of Terry Richardson and became synonymous with the late 1990s early 1990s . hipster culture. The company moved to New York in 1999 and expanded massively, becoming more digitally focused and adding film and TV units. Subsequently, Vice experienced a series of successes and cultural influences that culminated when private equity giant TPG Capital invested $450 million in the company to give it an incredible valuation of $5.7 billion.
With Vice’s market sentiment and a seemingly unwavering sense of cool, Smith even touted an IPO in June 2017.
But things went awry for the Brooklyn-based company later in 2017 as a series of internal issues and external factors began to erase the aura of success. In late 2017, Vice was embroiled in several MeToo scandals amid allegations of sexual harassment and pay inequality that caused top executives to leave. Smith stepped down as CEO in 2018 and was replaced by veteran media and TV executive Nancy Dubuc, who wanted to professionalize and grow the media company.
This year has proved to be another annus horribilis for Vice, with Dubuc stepping down as CEO in February and Jesse Angelo, Vice’s global president of news and entertainment, leaving in March. In April, Vice shut down its flagship TV news show Vice news tonight and laid off more than 100 employees. Earlier this month, the company made massive layoffs at its Vice World News division and closed its APAC offices.