Vice Media is laying off about 10% of its total workforce, Deadline confirmed Friday. This comes a week after BuzzFeed’s similar staff reduction and is the latest signal of scale-backs in what was maybe a too-fast-growing sector.
CEO Nancy Dubuc revealed the move in a memo to staff Friday. It comes after the last round of layoffs in November of about the same amount; at the time those moves including a hiring freeze at the Brooklyn-based company aiming at millennial demos.
“Having finalized the 2019 budget, our focus shifts to executing our goals and hitting our marks,” Dubuc wrote in the memo, obtained first by THR. “We will make Vice the best manifestation of itself and cement its place long into the future.”
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Last week, similar cuts swept through HuffPost (via Verizon) and Gannett. Media outlets reported Friday the number of Vice layoffs is pegged around 250. BuzzFeed’s total was about 200.
Below is today’s memo from Dubuc, the former A+E Networks president and CEO who took over in March 2018 and has been repurposing the company with a slant toward film and TV production and righting its culture. “We need to operate more nimbly, focusing our energies and investments on core strengths— on our terms, in our own way,” she said in unveiling the layoffs.
Dubuc replaced Vice co-founder Shane Smith who moved to executive chairman, amid waves of harassment and inappropriate conduct claims at the company that led to the departure of several executives.
We’ve all been working hard over the past several months to ensure that VICE the brand, the community, and the cultural force continues to grow to achieve our creative and business goals and we are already seeing progress.
This past weekend, VICE Studios’ film The Report made headlines with one of the largest sales in Sundance history, and our must-watch documentary Fyre on Netflix continues to garner rave reviews and attention. The launch of VICE Live later this month will bring together our vision of One VICE, creatively capitalizing on the incredible multiplatform value we can unlock for audiences and advertisers. We are having partnership conversations around digital extensions of Live with several social platforms. This is on top of our already impressive momentum, ending the year with double-digit traffic increases in views, watch time and subscribers across the digital business.
Virtue is seen as a go-to shop for brand strategy and creative excellence among the largest of blue chip brands, having attracted 20 major new clients in 2018. And our News team continues their run, with more Emmy nominations and wins this year than any other nightly show as well as a stellar delivery of the El Chapo trial on its Spotify podcast.
Having finalized the 2019 budget, our focus shifts to executing our goals and hitting our marks. We will make VICE the best manifestation of itself and cement its place long into the future. To this end, we’ve had to make hard but necessary operating decisions. Starting today, the next phase of our plan begins as we reorganize our global workforce. Unfortunately, this means we will have to say goodbye to some of our VICE colleagues.
In this strategic restructure, some departments will get smaller while others will expand. Rather than organize VICE by country, we are creating a new operating structure around global lines of business—Studios, News, Digital, TV and Virtue. Support functions such as Sales, Legal, Communications, Marketing, IT, HR, Business Development and Brand Strategy will report into Brooklyn, or a designated central hub.
This shift centralizes many roles and eliminates overlap. It touches everyone at VICE— from finance to TV and editorial to IT — all departments at every level will see some impact. While this makes us a stronger business going forward, it is difficult for all of us to go through and we do not make these decisions lightly. We need to operate more nimbly, focusing our energies and investments on core strengths— on our terms, in our own way.
Our leadership and HR business partners will meet with individuals affected by this reorganization today in the U.S., U.K. and Mexico. Over the coming weeks, we will be finalizing plans with other regions following local regulatory policies. There are a significant number of open positions coming online to help us expand where needed and we encourage you to discuss those with your HR business partner. Some areas of expected growth include Sales, Studios, VICE News digital and Virtue in many markets.
We are fortunate that VICE’s early diversification has made us more resilient to a shifting industry. VICE isn’t a logo—it’s people. Everyone who walks through our doors gives a part of themselves to do something different. You make sure we don’t conform. You bring your ideas and reckon with the weird and often messed up world around us. You dare.
Saying thank you can never express the depths of gratitude I have for the contributions you have made. Change is always hard, but this is VICE and I’m confident that we will all come together to make this a transition bound by respect, support and compassion.
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