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“It’s not off the table, but right now, that’s not our focus,” Moretti told The Hollywood Reporter while attending Canadian Screen Week in Toronto. “We’re in build mode in this country and in other countries to create the next trajectory for the Vice brand and business. Wherever we are right now in terms of valuation, great, this is just the beginning,” he added.
Talk of an IPO for Vice Media follows A&E Networks paying $250 million for a 10 percent holding, and Rupert Murdoch‘s 21st Century Fox, former Viacom CEO Tom Freston and equity fund Technology Crossover Ventures also taking stakes.
Vice Media currently has offices in 36 countries, but Moretti sees added worldwide expansion in Southeast Asia, including China and India, and the Middle East. “We’re in China, but growing our presence in China is a big deal … Anywhere that there are young people, Vice should have a voice and a footprint,” he said.
Closer to home, the global brand, which launched in Montreal in 1994 as a magazine, recently pacted with Rogers Communications to build a $100 million production studio in Toronto to use Canadian tax credits and subsidies for local producers to make global content. The partners will also launch a new 24-hour Vice Media TV channel in Canada.
Moretti, who was raised in Toronto before joining Vice Media in New York City, said the multiplatform brand is commissioning and making content worldwide. But, where possible, scripted and unscripted mobile, online and TV fare, and increasingly movies, will be made in Toronto and Montreal for cost savings.
“There’s a structure up here, and there are certain things you need to do to comply,” he added. Moretti also said Vice Media last year hiring Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former Obama administration official, as its COO, and Ellis Jones more recently named as the new editor-in-chief of Vice magazine, signaled the youth brand covets a bigger female audience as it navigates global expansion.
Company CEO Shane Smith has a beard and is a “dude,” he noted, but insisted Vice Media is becoming “less dude.”
“The brand has been evolving for 20 years, and it did skew more male originally, but the last five or six years has been about widening the umbrella and evening out the demo and the split there,” Moretti said.
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