Vice Media Group Will ‘Combine Forces’ With Refinery29

Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc praises 'impressive growth' of women-focused publisher

vice media group logo refinery29 logo
Vice Media's purchase of Refinery29 is expected to close by year's end. Vice, Refinery29

Vice Media Group intends to buy Refinery29, the millennial, female-focused digital publisher, the company announced today.

Founded in 2005, Refinery29 will continue to put on its signature experiential pop-up, 29Rooms, and will keep producing its film and TV projects already in the works, like Shatterbox. Vice and Refinery29 have been occupying similar media spaces, including betting on Hollywood, in recent years.

Vice Media Group CEO Nancy Dubuc will oversee Refinery29, with other leadership announcements to be made after the deal closes, which is expected by the end of the year. Financial terms of the agreement were not made available, but Vice Media noted that the deal would combine services and allow for an accelerated path to profitability.

“In this ever-changing media landscape, we will continue to stay focused on our growth, and today is just one more step in our path,” Dubuc told staff in a memo, noting Refinery29’s strength in reaching young women.

Dubuc also wrote that Refinery29 would remain its own, distinct brand. “Their continued growth is impressive, and we can’t wait to take the Vice global footprint and accelerate their international growth into new markets,” she said.

In February this year, Vice Media went through a reorganization and restructuring, slashing close to 250 jobs in the process. The decision, made under Dubuc, was part of her plan to make the company profitable as it deepened in its investments, particularly in film and branded content.

Dubuc officially replaced Shane Smith as Vice Media CEO last April, after having spent almost two decades at A+E Networks. As the Wall Street Journal reported reported in November, Vice was expected to make cuts this year, after revenue remained flat and significantly less than what the media company told its investor, TPG, in 2017.

In all, the Vice Media Group portfolio now includes Vice, Vice News, Vice Studios (for film and TV shows), Viceland (TV network), Virtue (creative agency), Pulse Films (production studio), i-D (a digital bimonthly magazine covering fashion), Garage (digital and biannual publication covering art and design) and Refinery29.

“This transformational partnership will allow our mission and business to flourish further,” said Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano, co-CEOs of Refinery29, in a joint statement. “We are proud to partner with Nancy and Vice Media Group, and we are confident that together we will be able to expand our vital role in shaping culture and positively impacting the world for young people everywhere.”

The media industry has seen a number of acquisitions in recent days. Explainer site Dotdash announced Tuesday that it had made its fourth acquisition this year in Last week, Vox Media and New York Media (and all of its sister brands) announced their intent to merge, and in July, Bustle Digital Group acquired tech and science site Inverse.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.