CEO Nancy Dubuc is exiting the struggling Vice Media Group after a five-year stint as CEO. Previously CEO of A&E Networks, she shared her decision with Vice staff in a memo Friday morning.
“I am proud to leave a Vice better than the one I joined,” she said in the memo. “Together we racked up incredible wins while tackling unprecedented macroeconomic headwinds caused by the pandemic, the war in the Ukraine, and the economy all which forced us to pivot, refocus and pivot again.”
Although she was brought in to help grow the digital media company, succeeding co-founder Shane Smith, Dubuc’s departure comes as the digital media company’s board is seeking to sell all or part of the company after missing its $700 million revenue target for 2022 by $100 million and slashing jobs last year as digital media suffered.
After its first attempt to sell last year failed despite a price tag between $1 billion and $1.5 billion — a steep fall from its valuation at $5.7 billion in 2017 — the company secured $30 million in debt financing last week from Fortress Investment Group, which had previously backed Vice to the tune of $250 million with partners. It also extended the maturity on an existing loan that was to be paid by the end of last year.
Other major investors in the company include Disney, TPG, James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, the Raine Group and WPP.
At Fortress’s urging, some of that new funding will be used to shop the company, which is now seeking a valuation under $1 billion, according to CNBC. The lowered expectations are aimed at getting a deal done faster. Talks with Greek broadcaster Antenna Group have apparently stalled.
“Today Vice has an incredible opportunity in the hands of a new management team who are looking to harness the businesses we built and grew and to lay the groundwork for the future,” Dubuc said in the memo to staff, Deadline reported. She said the company reduced its overhead by half and improved the “quality” of revenue and doubled gross margins.
“Most important, while there’s still much work to be done, Vice is a more diverse and inclusive environment than ever,” she wrote.
Dubuc was at the end of her contract and decided it was right time to move on, according to Deadline.
Vice did not immediately respond to a request for further details.
The company operates a host of titles under its namesake news outlet, along with the female focused Refinery29, which it bought in 2019. It also runs Pulse Films, film and TV production unit Vice Studios, creative agency Virtue and Vice Distribution.
“Nancy joined Vice at a pivotal time and put in place an exceptional team that has positioned the company for long-term success,” the company’s board of directors said in a statement obtained by Deadline. “We thank Nancy for her many contributions and will soon announce new leadership to guide Vice forward into its next stage of growth and transformation.”