Vice Media recently secured nearly a half billion dollars in additional investment from the private equity firm TPG. The firm joins the likes of 21st Century Fox, A+E Networks, and Disney in funding the media company. The combined efforts of these corporations brings Vice’s valuation to around $5.7 billion. For a mouthy upstart with an office in Brooklyn, that’s not bad.
Initially, Vice had much humbler aspirations. Formed as a Canadian print magazine, Vice has in recent years relocated, repurposed itself, and become into one of the biggest little fish in the news and entertainment industry. Crafted with a millennial audience in mind, Vice has spent the past two decades or so steadily turning its attentions from print media to digital and broadcast video.
Starting perhaps with the launch of Vice’s own cable network, Viceland, in 2001, Vice has been doubling down on their commitment to video ever since. They partnered with HBO to produce documentary news and with ESPN for exclusive sports content. Despite all these connections and a sizable audience, Vice lacked the capital to independently create video on a truly competitive scale.
In order to really contend, Vice would need a production company that would allow them to create, distribute, and deliver original content. They needed to create Vice Studios. That realization can now be a reality thanks to the TPG investment.
Speaking to his plans for the company and the $450 million, Vice Media’s Chief Executive Shane Smith expressed how Vice would not be able to build “the largest millennial video library in the world.” This would enable them “to widen [their] offering to include news, food, music, fashion, art, travel, gaming, lifestyle, scripted and feature films.”
There’s a secondary benefit to Vice now being valued so highly and capable of creating content on that scale. Beyond being able to release more video, the money could also mean the company will potentially go public.
Before you rush off to buy Vice stock, it’s worth noting the importance of this investment. In this instance, companies with the means to support the pursuit of digital media are truly ponying up. These giants aren’t offering just pocket change, but rather a substantial amount of money to insure video is made. They see the creation of this kind of content as vital, as part of the future of not only entertainment, but also news and communication. Which companies they’ll back next, what competitors will arise, or even what kind of content Vice Studios will produce will all determine how these kinds of investments are made in the future.
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