It is one of the most unusal success stories in the media business within the last two decades. What started in 1994 as a small printed punk magazine in Montreal has become a multi platform media corporation known as VICE media. Today the company has 1500 employees worldwide and an estimated value between 2.5 and 4 billion US Dollars.
Before we travel back in time let’s watch this video to get a feeling for their journalism branch named VICE NEWS and their way of working.[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFnw3VrRMQQ width:500 align:center]
Now let’s travel back to the 90s for minute. At that time the Voice of Montreal was a publicly financed magazine project to give young unemployed a perspective. The three founders were Shane Smith, Gavin McInnes and Suroosh Alvi, two of them would be shaping the face of the company in the next two decades. They started writing about punk, drugs and rap in their city – addressing the generation x audience clearly with provocative and powerful photographs. In 1996 the three founders bought out the magazines publisher Alix Laurent and renamed it to VICE – a buzzword for sin, bad habits and rude language.
In the late 90s a canadian software entrepreneur injected a million dollar investment into the company VICE and relocated it in New York. The three founding writers kept sticking to their clearly defined business model: 1. Make no debth 2. one site of advertisement finances one site of content.
Besides their business principles Vice has always put a strong effort in visually striking content. Strong and provocative photo stories are one more reason, why Vice has become the voice of youg cosmopolitan trendsetters, the back packing youth exploring other countries than their own. Being in a global city like New York they perfectly reached out to a an audience defined as trend setting metropolitans between 21 to 34. And they spread out globally starting with opening up an office in London.
With the boom of video journalism and the rise video platforms like YouTube moving images started flooding the web in 2006. For Shane Smith the perfect environment to set up a video platform for their content: vbs.tv with filmmaker spike jonze as its creative director. This success story made Vice even sexier for bigger brands. The sponsored content concept worked for video as it did for print. Today the company has its own advertising agency named AdVice and a media agency named Virtue, that guarantee the cashflow.
Projects like Motherboard, The Creators Project or Noisey are brand collaborations that built the financial pillars for the company. Their journalistic endeavor named VICE NEWS. License fees for their HBO documentaries and similar packages for european television are the sources of income of Vice News.
Critics might say Vice is a media agency with a news outlet. It is worth discussing how independent VICE can stay with powerful brands as a major source of their income. Their success story has attracted other global players in the media business. Rupert Murdochs Newscorp bought a 5% stake for 70 million US$. And in 2014 A&E networks, a joint venture of Walt Disney and the Hearst Corporation, bought a 10% share for 250 million dollars.