VICE Media, the media outlet famous for its unconventional approach to news, has acquired the progressive digital media outlet Refinery29. The information was revealed on Wednesday in a joint press release by the two companies, though FT broke the news first. Neither companies have revealed the exact cost of the deal, though some sourceshave speculated that Refinery29 was valued under $500 million.
In her statement, Nancy Dubac (vice president of VICE) said:
“This is an expansive moment for independent media. VICE Media Group and Refinery29, two of the strongest independent voices in the industry, will continue to build a scaled global and diversified media company.”
VICE was first launched as a youth magazine in Canada in 1994. Since then, it has gradually transformed itself into a full-fledged media organization with multiple branches. VICE ran a woman-oriented site earlier called Broadly which was rebranded was Vice Identity recently. It was part of a broader restructuring where a lot of such branches were rebranded and brought under the VICE.com brand name.
Refinery29 was founded in 2005 to focus mainly on fashion but has since expanded over other fields like health, politics and news. The primary demographic of its audience has always been millennial women. Like VICE, it too exists on venture capital funding. Reportedly, it raised $133.4 million as funds.
Like many other news platforms, both VICE and Refinery29 have been struggling to remain profitable. VICE laid off 250 employees in February this year while Refinery20 laid off 40 employees in October last year. HBO dropped the award-winning shows by VICE, “Vice News Tonight” and “Vice” recently. However, they were later picked up by other networks. As such, the strategy to merge for better ad revenue is a sound one. Vox Media too acquired New York Media recently for the same purpose.
Both VICE and Refiney29 are part of the Writer Guild of America East, having signed up for the union in January this year. The union representative said that they are waiting to get an update on the new structure of the organization. As of now, VICE has not revealed how exactly Refiney29 will merge into the VICE organization. Though it is clear that they will report to VICE leadership and Nancy Dubac.