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Vice to lay off 10% of workforce

By Tom Kludt, CNN Business

(CNN) -- Vice Media announced significant cutbacks to its staff on Friday, adding more job losses to an already beleaguered industry.

The layoffs were revealed in a memo by CEO Nancy Dubuc, who said the company had finalized its 2019 budget and will now shift its focus "to executing our goals and hitting our marks."

The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the layoffs, said that the cuts "will impact around 250 people," or about 10% of its workforce.

A Vice spokesperson confirmed to CNN Business the accuracy of the report.

"We will make VICE the best manifestation of itself and cement its place long into the future," Dubuc said in the memo, which was obtained by CNN Business. "To this end, we've had to make hard but necessary operating decisions. Starting today, the next phase of our plan begins as we reorganize our global workforce. Unfortunately, this means we will have to say goodbye to some of our VICE colleagues."

Dubuc said that the "strategic restructure" will affect "everyone at VICE — from finance to TV and editorial to IT — all departments at every level will see some impact."

"While this makes us a stronger business going forward, it is difficult for all of us to go through and we do not make these decisions lightly," she said. "We need to operate more nimbly, focusing our energies and investments on core strengths— on our terms, in our own way."

The layoffs mark yet more grim news for a media industry that has become defined by turbulence. Last week, about 1,000 jobs were cut in news media, with significant layoffs announced at BuzzFeed, Verizon Media (which owns HuffPost) and Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper chain.

For Vice, the Brooklyn-based company that became a darling of new media, the cuts represent a humbling setback and a marked shift from its once-bullish outlook.

After launching as a music and culture magazine in Canada in the 1990s, Vice has evolved into a multimedia force, with a robust digital operation and film and television production studios.

Vice's millennial-focused content helped the company draw considerable investment over the years, as it eyed an IPO. In 2017, after a $450 million investment from the private equity firm TPG, Vice was valued at $5.7 billion.

But the future isn't shining nearly as bright for Vice these days, as contraction has come for a number of ambitious media upstarts. In November, Disney revealed a $157 million write-down on its stake in the company.

Dubuc, who replaced Vice co-founder Shane Smith as CEO last year, telegraphed the layoffs in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in October, saying that she couldn't rule out more cuts.

In her memo on Friday, Dubuc said that the restructure will centralize "many roles and [eliminate] overlap."

"Rather than organize VICE by country, we are creating a new operating structure around global lines of business—Studios, News, Digital, TV and Virtue," she said. "Support functions such as Sales, Legal, Communications, Marketing, IT, HR, Business Development and Brand Strategy will report into Brooklyn, or a designated central hub."

Dubuc said that individuals affected by the layoffs in the United States, United Kingdom and Mexico will be notified on Friday. She also told staff that the company is expected to expand in areas such as sales and Vice's digital news operation.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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