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February 24, 2023

Vice Media Group CEO Nancy Dubuc steps down after five years

Nancy Dubuc took over from Vice co-founder Shane Smith in 2018.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Vice Media Group chief executive Nancy Dubuc has told staff she is stepping down after five years at the helm, shortly after the company restarted a sale process.

Dubuc took over from co-founder Shane Smith in the role in 2018, months after the media company apologised for its “boy’s club” atmosphere.

A statement from the Vice Media Group board of directors on Friday said: “Nancy joined Vice at a pivotal time and put in place an exceptional team that has positioned the company for long-term success. 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.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Vice Media Group missed its 2022 revenue target by more than $100m, meaning it stayed roughly flat on the year before at $600m.

In May 2021 it was reported Vice was targeting a $3bn valuation through a merger with the special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) 7GC & Co Holdings – but it eventually dropped the plans to instead raise $85m from existing investors. The sale process reportedly restarted last month and could value the company at less than $1bn. Back in 2017 the company was valued at $5.7bn.

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Dubuc told the New York Times last month Vice could do better under one owner, who could take a longer-term view, than with several investors who include James Murdoch and private equity company TPG.

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She told the newspaper of her time in charge: “Has it been difficult? Yeah. Has anybody in my chair had a difficult ride at any company? I would say yes. We tend to be a little bit more public than most because of the curiosities and palace intrigue. But I’m about getting a job done, and we have a job to do, and I intend to do it.”

In an email to staff on Friday, Dubuc said: “We have transformed this company from a disparate brand to a fully formed, diversified media company complete with a thriving news organisation hosting a collection of some of the most recognisable consumer brands. Your commitment to excellence, progress and ethics is unparalleled and the relationships we have built are everlasting. Which is why as the anniversary of my tenure approaches, it is so difficult to share that I have made the decision to move onto the next chapter.

“I am proud to leave a Vice better than the one I joined. 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. Despite all this the Vice, Vice Studios, Pulse, as well as Virtue, R29, i-D and Unbothered brands are strong. We reduced overhead by half and yet improved the quality of our revenues through both increased profitability and growth of returning revenues. As we face new headwinds in the marketplace Vice is now less ad dependent, and our gross margins have more than doubled.

“Most important, while there’s still much work to be done, Vice is a more diverse and inclusive environment than ever.

“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…”

[Read more: New Vice editor Zing Tsjeng on reaching Gen Z and weathering downturn]

Staff were also told last month of plans to cut roles, the latest in a line of job culls over the past few years – a period that has also seen Vice acquire the female-focused brand Refinery 29.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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