Vice Media is in discussions to acquire online publisher Refinery29, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter.
The talks are reportedly ongoing and may not result in an offer.
Bringing the two online media brands together would expand Vice’s core audience, which is largely male. Refinery29’s content includes verticals on work, money, beauty and pop culture from a women-focused lens.
Vice Media’s digital platform recently experienced a sharp decline in online readers after closing its partner-traffic program. Vice.com traffic sank 18% to 33.4 million unique U.S. visitors in April before rising again in May. That month, the company also consolidated its news, food, music and tech verticals, bringing them under the umbrella of the main Vice.com site, in a bid to “unify and strengthen its offering to audiences and advertisers alike,” according to the company, led by Nancy Dubuc.
Last month, Vice laid off its editor-in-chief Jonathan Smith and managing editor Rachel Schallom, bringing in Erika Allen from New York Magazine’s The Cut as executive managing editor and upping Meredith Balks to Vice Digital associate managing editor. The outlet expanded exec editor of global Derek Mead’s responsibilities to include tech, gaming and issues coverage. Mead has been tasked with creating a new features and investigations desk.
HBO recently canceled Vice Media’s “Vice News Tonight,” which was recently nominated for 18 News and Documentary Emmys. According to the Journal, Dubuc is investing in Vice’s studio business and is looking for a new partner to expand its news program abroad.
Refinery29 has grown revenue by diversifying its streams and reduced its losses, the Journal said, citing a source familiar with the matter. Like a number of other ad-based online outlets, Refinery29, Vice, BuzzFeed and others have shrunk staff in recent years amid a highly competitive environment.