Nancy Dubuc announced in a memo to Vice Media Group staff Friday that she is leaving as CEO of the media company, which has been attempting to find a buyer over the last year.
Dubuc, who was previously CEO of A+E Networks and spent nearly 20 years at the cable programmer, was hired as Vice Media’s chief exec in March 2018. She took over for company co-founder Shane Smith, who shifted into a new role as executive chairman. During her tenure as Vice Media’s CEO, Dubuc has had to contend to with downswings in revenue and related cost-cutting measures as well as the fallout from a sexual-harassment scandal and allegations of gender pay disparity at the Brooklyn-based company.
“It’s been an exhilarating five years since joining you at Vice, and I am incredibly proud of the important and long-lasting accomplishments we have made together,” Dubuc wrote in her farewell email. “[A]s the anniversary of my tenure approaches, it is so difficult to share that I have made the decision to move onto the next chapter.” (Read the full memo below.)
Asked for additional info, a Vice Media rep provided a statement from the company’s board of directors: “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.”
Dubuc’s exit comes as Vice Media has been actively trying to sell itself. The company had been in acquisition talks with Greek broadcasting company Antenna, with Vice Media seeking a deal valuing it at some $1.5 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported — about one-fourth of Vice’s ballyhooed $5.7 billion valuation back in 2017.
Vice Media’s investors include Disney, TPG, James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, the Raine Group and WPP. The cash-strapped company secured a $30 million loan from Fortress Investment Group to pay outstanding bills totaling “millions of dollars” to vendors and advisers, some which haven’t been paid for more than six months, the Journal reported last week.
Smith had previously led Vice ever since the company launched a punk-scene print magazine in Montreal in 1994.
Vice Media Group’s five main business units are: Vice.com, the Vice Studios film and TV production unit; the Vice TV television network; Vice News; and creative agency Virtue. The company’s portfolio also includes Refinery29, the media and entertainment brand focused on women acquired in 2019; London-based Pulse Films; and i-D, a digital and print style publication covering fashion, culture and design.
Read Dubuc’s memo to staff:
Dear Vice Media Group Team,
I am writing today with bittersweet news. It’s been an exhilarating five years since joining you at Vice, and I am incredibly proud of the important and long-lasting accomplishments we have made together. We have transformed this Company from a disparate brand to a fully formed, diversified media company complete with a thriving news organization hosting a collection of some of the most recognizable 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. I know you are among the most resilient, creative, and determined talent in the business and your futures are bright and hopeful.
Remember what I try to remind you, and that is to appreciate how far you’ve come. The accomplishments are far and wide — from new businesses, completely rebuilt operations and countless awards for brave work. But also remember to look ahead to the possibilities.
I’d also like to thank Shane and Suroosh for their trust and the many board members and investors along the way. I will cheer you from the side-lines.
Left foot, right foot.
From Variety US