Vice Media’s CEO Shane Smith has confirmed A+E Networks’ Nancy Dubuc will succeed him at youth-skewed media brand, calling them a “modern day Bonnie and Clyde” partnership.
Smith (pictured right) is to transition to executive chairman when Dubuc (below left) takes up her new role as CEO after leaving cable channels group A+E in April.
Her exit from A+E accelerated after she held talks with Amazon Studios about becoming its new boss, though that role ultimately went to Jennifer Salke.
“Why Nancy Dubuc? Simply put, because rarely in business do you get to work in a perfect partnership,” said Smith. “First off, she is better than me at everything. Second, it allows me to move to executive chairman, where I can concentrate on the only things that I am good at – content and deals.
“Thirdly, as we go forward Vice needs a best-in-class management team to harness all of this growth and control our own destiny, whether it be staying independent, strategically partnering with someone or going public.”
Though Vice is arguably the most powerful media brand for millennials and young adult audiences, it missed financial goals last year. Vice, for its part, claims 2017 resulted in record ratings and “double-digit revenue growth”. The company also took a reputational hit when a New York Times article laid bare allegations of mismanagement and ill treatment of female staff.
Dubuc’s appointment will be seen in some circles as a response to those challenges. Vice has already committed to a 50/50 male-female staff ratio at all levels of the company by 2020.
Vice revealed Smith had approached Dubuc about the role to ensure it is able to build its rapidly expanding international business and build out its production capabilities.
“Shane and the team at Vice have done what all of us aspire to do – build a brand and make content that people really care about,” said Dubuc.
“Vice speaks to a generation that defines today’s cultural conversation, and the opportunity to partner with all of the incredibly creative people across the entire company was one of those rare moments in a career.”
Smith and Dubuc have worked closely together on the Viceland cable channel, which A+E operates in the US, though it has found capturing audiences in the States and elsewhere tough. Dubuc is also already a Vice board member.
Smith called them “a modern day Bonnie and Clyde”, adding with typical vigour: “We are going to take all your money.”
Shane Smith’s note to Vice staff yesterday
As many of you have read, I have been in discussions with my friend, my partner, and board member Nancy Dubuc, to join the VICE family and become my successor as CEO.
While we tried our damnedest to have everything signed, sealed and delivered before sharing it with you and with the rest of the world, we seemingly can’t take a crap in this town without it leaking to the press.
Of course, as the bellwether for the modern media age, we should be no stranger to the rumors and speculation.
Today we put this speculation to rest and turn our focus toward executing our growth plans to maintain our hegemonic place atop the new media landscape which, in turn, will give us the ability to control our own destiny.
As founders, we take pride in the fact that we built an institution with some level of permanence, and while VICE has a strong foundation for the future, we realize that we need help for the next phase of our growth. We need to surround ourselves with the right people so our company, and our thousands of employees globally, can flourish.
In looking for a professional CEO, we are in need of one who can master; the content world, the digital world, the business world, and who is at the same time an operator extraordinaire. These people are obviously few and far between, but I believe we have found the absolute best in class with Nancy.
Nancy and I have spent much time deliberating on the best way for us to partner up in a shared mission of maximizing the great potential this company holds. She believes in VICE, she believes in our mission, and she believes in all of you.
Nancy has clearly proven herself with her stewardship of A&E Networks. As a partner, she’s helped grow VICELAND internationally and into the second fastest growing network in all of US cable among our audience.
Since joining our board, Nancy has been a trusted confidante whose every recommendation is driven by making the best programming possible. She has the rare combination of business and content chops, and an unparalleled record in running the daily operations of a sprawling global media company like our own.
A lot of people have been asking me what this means for me personally. Well, I have always said that I am good at two things, 1) creating content and 2) making deals, so that’s what I’m going to do. I will focus my energy on raising the bar for our content, and will serve as Executive Chairman of the Board.
Again, as I always say “I’Union fait la Force” or “together we are stronger.” This marks a new period in VICE’s history that will make us infinitely stronger. Nancy will run the company day to day from New York and we will work lock step with our partners, management, employees and board in making sure that VICE maintains its position as the leader of new media, and delivers on its commitment to 50/50 by 2020 as we work to become the most progressive workplace in the world.
This Friday we will be hosting a town hall in Brooklyn to welcome Nancy and introduce her to all of you. I hope that you will welcome her to the company with the same enthusiasm and open arms that I have.