21st Century Fox has acquired a five percent stake in Vice, a blossoming media empire spanning magazines, film, TV and online, in a deal that values the company at $1.4 billion, according to the two companies. Fox's predecessor News Corp. made the deal before it split into two companies, Fox and News Corp., and the investment will be housed under Fox, home to the company's entertainment assets.
"We get to make all the content we want? With the best platforms in the world? Grow our brand exponentially? Become the next global media brand? And all the while own the vast majority of the comapny and vote 95% of the board? Where-do-we-fucking-sign?!," CEO Shane Smith (left) said in a statement.
Vice began almost two decades ago as an alternative magazine called "Voice of Montreal" based in the Canadian metropolis. The company changed its name to Vice in 1996, later relocated to Brooklyn and has since aggressively built a devoted audience of hipsters, music lovers, tech geeks and many others between the age of 18 and 34 — a demographic coveted by advertisers.
The deal unites one of Hollywood’s lasting entertainment and media brands with a company that has emphasized disruption. Fox has built its empire on television, and continues to depend on the traditional business structure – revenue from affiliates and advertising.
Vice has pushed boundaries both in terms of content — embracing drug culture, for example – while also embracing new distribution channels, pushing out more than 60 channels of video on the web. Smith appeared on TheWrap's Inaugural List of 12 Innovators Changing Hollywood for that very reason.
Vice also owns a record label, has a partnership with Intel called The Creator's Project and a TV show taht HBO recently renewed for a second season.
The company will use the new investment to further its global expansion into India and Europe, two nations where Fox has already launched TV channels. Vice already has offices in New York and Venice, Calif. — and has been expanding those Los Angeles operations, as TheWrap reported it would last summer.