If Vice Media succeeds in its planned takeover of Refinery29, some media watchers are predicting a major clash of cultures and a new round of layoffs.
The two companies each command nine figures in revenue, but neither is profitable and the private equity owners forced major cuts in staffing at both operations in the past year.
Said one rival digital executive, “The cultures are oil and water. Misogyny meets feminism.”
“When they merge, there will be very deep cuts on the Refinery side,” predicted the executive. “Vice will gut them.”
Vice and Refinery29 declined to comment on the takeover talks, which were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
One source close to the situation said it is “very early in the game” and there is no guarantee that a deal will get done between the male-focused Vice Media and female-focused Refinery.
Vice Media is estimated to have revenue of more than $600 million, and close to 60 percent of its digital traffic of 300 million monthly visitors comes from overseas. Refinery29 revenue was estimated to be around $100 million, and most of its traffic comes from US-based consumers.
Vice Media has been making efforts to change its frat-boy image ever since the company installed former top A&E executive Nancy Dubuc as CEO in May 2018 after founding CEO Shane Smith was forced out amid a series of sexual harassment claims.
Dubuc has rounded out Vice’s top ranks by putting women in key positions, including Editor-in-Chief Katie Drummond, a former Gizmodo EIC who joined in March from Medium, and Chief Digital Officer Cory Haik, the former Mic publisher, who joined in May.