Business News Deals Media

Vice acquires Refinery29

By | Published on Thursday 3 October 2019


Vice Media has bought Refinery29, bringing together two media firms that were, a few years ago, both seen as key players in the then rapidly expanding online media domain, much better at engaging younger consumers than traditional newspapers and magazines.

According to the FT, sources say the new deal mainly involves an exchange in stock, with the combined business getting a $4 billion valuation.

Refinery29 began life as a New York-centric fashion-focused website, subsequently expanding its remit and opening bases in LA, London and Berlin. Its content is pitched more to a female readership and therefore arguably complements Vice’s current output, the audience for which has generally skewed slightly towards the male demographic.

The merger of the two firms comes as many of the online-centric media brands that attracted mega-money from investors in the earlier part of this decade tackle the challenge of becoming commercially viable long-term.

Most are ad-funded and the online advertising market continues to be dominated by Facebook and Google. And while so called branded content deals can be more lucrative – and favour those online businesses with in-house content expertise – there are fewer of those transactions to be done.

Plus, unlike with advertising where overall spend tends to be pretty stable, media that secure money through more innovative marketing partnerships with brands can be hit by decision makers at said brands suddenly becoming distracted by whatever the latest marketing fad of the moment might be, directing budgets away from existing branded content projects.

The deal will significantly boost Vice’s overall audience size, while there will presumably be some economies secured behind the scenes by combining the two firm’s operations. Vice’s newish CEO, Nancy Dubuc, said the combination of Vice and Refinery29 signalled a “new era of lasting change in digital media”. Lovely stuff.