Millenial-focused media and news brand Vice is cutting its staff in Canada, and will lay off ten positions as part of a world-wide two per cent staff reduction, Global News has learned.
The world-wide layoffs, first reported by Variety, will take place Friday and will hit workers in sales, branded content, editorial and on the company side at Vice’s U.S., Canadian and European offices. (The company employs about 3,000 internationally.)
Only two months ago, employees at the Canadian division of Vice voted to unionize with the Canadian Media Guild, increasing salaries and vacation times for about 170 employees across operations. A source familiar with the matter said layoff notices will come in Canada after the company “works through the process” with CMG.
The company is currently in the last year of a $100 million, three-year deal with Rogers Media that included the launch of specialty channel Viceland in Canada.
At one of the few outlets that has seen significant growth in recent years of volatile media industry disruption, the Vice cuts follow a recent wave of layoffs at prominent digital news outlets, as financial disruption in the media and online advertising industries has led outlets to allocate more resources to video.
Last month, the entire editorial staff at “deep web” news site Vocativ was laid off as the company shifted its focus to a video content. About 25 people lost their jobs.
On the same day, HuffPost—the newly rebranded Huffington Post— let go of 39 staff in its U.S. Writers Guild of America unit, following the merger of its parent AOL with Yahoo. And, earlier this month, MTV News, laid off much of its editorial staff, reorganizing its operations towards video content and away from written reporting and commentary.
Vice’s corporate strategy, like many digital outlets who have recently made the pivot to video, also includes ramping up its video production capacity and its overall global staff numbers may increase in the next several months, though it is unclear how that will impact Canadian operations.
It will also fold electronic vertical Thump and culture vertical Creators into the main Vice website, while shifting the focus of its Vice Sports vertical to video.
The company has also continued to rack up significant valuations: a US$450 million investment from private equity firm TPG in June valued Vice at $5.7 billion. CEO and co-founder Shane Smith last year bought a sprawling, 3.35-acre villa in Santa Monica, California for $23 million.
The investment from TPG is partly what elevated the push to video, as Vice expects to open offices in Mumbai and Dubai and expand its presence in other growing markets, where it will focus on monetizing video content.
The most recent layoffs are not a first for Vice: in May 2016, it laid off 15 in the United States and three in the United Kingdom, sparing its Canadian office of any job losses at the time.
Nor is it the first time a burgeoning U.S. digital outlet has cut back on its Canadian operations: last year, BuzzFeed shuttered its Ottawa bureau and relocated both reporters stationed there to Washington, D.C. It also reassigned BuzzFeed Canada founding editor Craig Silverman to head up its media reporting, which has garnered plaudits for its exhaustive coverage of the phenomenon of “fake news,” while a smaller number of staff have since been dedicated to publishing Canadian content.