Photo: Courtesy of Vice.
The media world's collective jaw hit the floor last year when Vice — the counterculture 'zine turned global multimedia company — sold a chunk of itself to FOX, which at the time valued the company at an eye-popping $1.4 billion. Now, Sky News is reporting that Vice is on the verge of selling another major stake of itself, this time to Time Warner, in a sale that would value the Brooklyn-based company at $2.2 billion.
It's unclear how the new deal would immediately affect either company; however, early reports suggest that Time Warner might inject its own cable news network, HLN, into Vice. At first glance, the two entities seem highly incongruous, though the companies worked together to produce Vice's weekly news show for the Time Warner-owned HBO. Whether this latest partnership actually materializes, though, remains to be seen.
While Vice prides itself as an alternative to mainstream media, it continues to align with media conglomerates. Some observers argue that this runs against Vice's counterculture ethos, but cofounder Shane Smith has mostly managed to maintain control over the company's operations. Smith has been very vocal about his plans for the future, which include expansion into rapidly growing foreign markets — specifically Asia. With the unlimited resources available to a powerhouse like Time Warner, Vice's path to global domination would likely be a lot swifter.
"I want us to be the next MTV, ESPN, and CNN rolled into one - and everyone always rolls their eyes," Smith told the Financial Times last year. "The reality is that MTV was bought by Viacom and CNN went to Time Warner. We have set ourselves up to build a global platform but we have maintained control."