About two-thirds of the staff cuts (around 100) will be international, with 55 layoffs affecting U.S. employees, Vice Media Group CEO Nancy Dubuc wrote in an internal memo Friday obtained by Variety. The international layoffs will happen over the next few weeks, while the Brooklyn-based company’s U.S. staffers will be let go Friday.
In the memo, titled “The Course Ahead,” Dubuc wrote, “While losing even one job feels like too many, these decisions ultimately rest with me and I assure you that we went to great lengths to preserve jobs.”
Vice Digital’s teams will be disproportionately affected by the layoffs. Currently, the company’s digital organization accounts for 50% of headcount costs, “but only brings in about 21% of our revenue,” Dubuc said in the memo. “Looking at our business holistically, this imbalance needed to be addressed for the long-term health of our company.”
A former Vice Media employee told Variety that the company already has been making layoffs over the last several weeks.
According to Dubuc, Vice Media was able to retain about 90% of the jobs in the digital organization by eliminating open roles across the company. In addition, the company is moving “as many individuals as possible” over to the growing Vice News division.
After many years of economic headwinds in digital advertising, Dubuc wrote, the situation has become even worse: “[T]he squeeze is becoming a choke hold. Platforms are not just taking a larger slice of the pie, but almost the whole pie.”
In statement, Vice Union, which represents editorial and other employees, claimed that for more than a month company management “repeatedly refused to discuss workshare programs, like the one the Los Angeles Times used to avoid layoffs.”
“We understand that the entire news industry is hurting,” Vice Union’s statement said. “We do not understand why Vice chose to lay off many of our colleagues in the middle of a global pandemic instead of exhausting all options to save these jobs.”
The layoffs come after Vice Media implemented belt-tightening moves at the end of March, extending for a 90-day period. Those steps, which are currently effective through June 30, include a sliding scale of pay cuts for employees earning $100,000 or more; a temporary suspension on promotions; and a halt on company-matched 401(k) contributions.
Vice Media staff who are being pink-slipped will receive severance pay; in addition, “everyone will be able to keep their work-issued laptops” as well as receive outplacement services, Dubuc said in the memo. In the U.S., laid-off employees will receive extended health benefits coverage through the end of 2020.