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Shane Smith, the colorful co-founder and CEO of Vice Media, has gotten the multibillion-dollar market valuation he wanted for his upstart new-media conglomerate — but not from Time Warner, with whom he had reportedly been in negotiations. Those talks have been shelved, reports say, and now Vice has confirmed to the Financial Times that it is selling a 10-percent stake in the company to A&E Networks (a joint venture between Disney and Hearst Co.) for $250 million, which pegs the entire company’s market value at $2.5 billion.
“It’s a great deal for us,” Smith told the Financial Times. “It means we can preserve our independence and it gives us a war chest for another three years of dramatic growth.” Although Smith said that Vice is exploring the possibility of having its own channel, for the moment it will be producing programming for the network, which runs shows such as Duck Dynasty and Storage Wars.
Until recently, Vice had been in acquisition talks with Time Warner over a deal that would have reportedly valued the company at about $2 billion. According to a number of reports, those talks — which would have given the new-media entity control over the HLN network — are now finished. The New York Times says the talks collapsed after the companies couldn’t agree on a valuation.
The A&E acquisition gives Vice a dramatically larger market value than it had just a year ago: last August, the company sold a 5-per-cent stake to Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox for $70 million, giving Vice an implied market value of $1.4 billion.