Disney is taking a $157 million write-down on Vice Media, covering a major portion of its investment in the millennial and Gen Z-focused media company as it struggles to grow its ad revenue and audience.
The Mouse House revealed the write-down deep in the fine print of its fourth quarter earnings release on Thursday afternoon. The write-down comes three years after Disney poured $400 million into Vice in 2015, valuing the media company at more than $4 billion.
Since launching in 1994, Vice has expanded beyond its punk-rock Canadian roots into one of the preeminent new media companies in the world — with a Bill Maher-produced series on HBO and its own cable channel. But the write-down follows the Wall Street Journal reporting earlier this week Vice is expected to bring in $600 million to $650 million in revenue this year — signaling flat growth from a year ago — while also losing about $50 million. Vice is also expected to shave 15 percent of its workforce through hiring freezes and attrition, while also shuttering several of its digital verticals, the WSJ added.
Vice’s woes add to the growing list of digital media companies like BuzzFeed and Mashable that are struggling to meet high expectations. Vice co-founder and former CEO Shane Smith, after another investment round last year, hinted at the company going public. Those plans appear to have been stymied, at least for now. Nancy Dubuc replaced Smith as chief executive in March, joining Vice from A+E Networks at a time when the former was racked by a series of #MeToo scandals that led to the departure of several executives.