Media site Vice mulls an IPO as it hurtles toward US$1bn revenues

25 Mar 2014

Vice, which began as a lifestyle magazine in Canada in the 1990s before morphing into a beacon for online journalism covering some of today’s worst trouble spots, as well as weird people and wonderful places, is mulling an IPO.

The site is on track to reap revenues of US$1bn by 2016 and is backed by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

The company has developed a loyal online following by covering stories other media seem to shy away from, whether it is the antics of sexual fetishists in Tokyo, the brutality of crime lords in Manchester, or compelling, raw coverage of the risings in Ukraine and Venezuela.

Vice attracts more than 7m unique monthly visitors and its videos have attracted 4.4m subscribers on YouTube.

CEO and co-founder Shane Smith in a video interview with Bloomberg said revenues are escalating at such a rate that an IPO would seem like the polite thing to do.

Revenues are doubling each year and are set to reach US$1bn by 2016. The revenue comes from a blend of traditional advertising, licensing video content to TV networks, such as HBO, and branded video content paid for by subscribers.

The company has a 34pc profit margin and this is set to reach 50pc in the coming years.

“If we hit our numbers and project out to next year, then our worth would be exponential. If we are doing US$1bn with a 50pc margin and an ever-increasing scale that would be worth as much as Twitter, I would think,” Smith said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years