21st Century Fox has invested $70 million in youth-focused media company Vice, giving Fox a 5 percent stake in the company and valuing Vice at $1.4 billion, according to a report in the Financial Times.
Although Vice started out as a print publication, most of its recent success has been online, especially in video (which led to a show on HBO). A recent profile in The New Yorker said that in 2012, the company brought in $175 million in revenue, more than 80 percent of it from the web.
Vice has also received funding from ad holding company WPP, merchant bank Raine, and former Viacom CEO Tom Freston, but according to the FT, the company’s senior management still controls 75 percent of the company.
To be honest, I was a semi-regular hate-reader of the magazine when I was in college, but eventually I got tired on its brand of hipster cynicism. Yet perhaps the most interesting thing about how it has transformed in recent years is not its shift online but the fact that it’s actually investing in reporting, especially international reporting. For example, the top story on the front page right now is a bombing report from Beirut, and when TechCrunch’s Colleen Taylor also pointed me to this episode of the HBO show on China’s ghost towns.
Now, Vice approaches a lot of that coverage with its same sensationalist style — take its high-profile trip bringing Dennis Rodman to North Korea. And yes, Vice is still quite capable of running content that’s generally terrible. But hey, there’s nothing unusual about digital media companies mixing eyeroll-worthy content with stuff that’s actually quite good.
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