This column is part of Variety's Broken Hollywood feature. For more execs and their opinions on the state of Hollywood, click here.I think the biggest issue for legacy media — both TV and film — is that it just costs too much money to develop a TV series or movie. And most of them don’t work. Then the one that works has to pay for the rest.If you look at film, distribution is pre-bought. If you’ve paid for the distribution, you...
It started in 1994, when Smith and fellow co-founders Suroosh Alvi and Gavin McInnes bought The Voice of Montreal, a magazine funded by the Canadian government as part of a welfare make-work program. They forced the original publishers out, dropped the “o” from Voice, and set out to become, in Smith’s words, “the international voice for the universality of youth subculture.” It’s a voice not so different than the brash Smith himself.
But it wasn’t until 2006, after moving Vice’s corporate headquarters to New York, that the full scope of Smith’s vision’s began to come to fruition. That year, on the advice of filmmaker and Vice Media creative director Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich”), the company branched out into online video with VBS.tv, a joint venture with MTV featuring short-form videos covering music, news, travel and social issues.
As online video exploded in the 2010s, so did Big Media’s investment in Vice Media. In 2013, 21st Century Fox bought a 5 percent stake in the company for $70 million. The following year, Canadian media giant Rogers Communications announced a $100 million partnership with Vice to build a multimedia production studio in Toronto. Disney also bought in, to the tune of $400 million, giving the Mouse House 10% of the company. An additional $450 million infusion from TPG in June gave Vice a valuation of $5.7 billion in June 2017.
In 2016, he expanded his partnership with HBO from a weekly newsmagazine to a daily newscast. Smith planted his flag in linear television with Viceland, a 24-hour, millennial-targeting cable channel launched in partnership with A+E Networks. Viceland has also become a piece of the company’s fast-moving global expansion, which should hit 80 countries by 2018. Smith is always on the look out for his next big move, which could materialize next in the form of an initial public offering.