Vice Media in Talks to Buy Refinery29

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A deal is not in place, but should a transaction occur, it would bring long awaited consolidation among digital media's power players.

Vice Media has held talks with Refinery29 about acquiring the women's lifestyle publisher, sources familiar with the situation tell The Hollywood Reporter

A deal is not in place, but should a transaction occur, it would bring long-awaited consolidation among digital media's power players.  

Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc has been focused on trimming the company's expenses and turning it into a profitable business since she took over for co-founder Shane Smith in 2018. Dubuc has been investing in the company's film and TV studio business as well as its digital operations and agency business, Virtue. The company raised $250 million in debt in May following a round of layoffs three months earlier. 

Refinery29 has also looked to cut costs during a turbulent time for venture-funded digital media businesses, laying off around 40 employees last fall as it fell short of its revenue targets. Run by Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano, the 14-year-old company has expanded from its roots as a fashion publisher into videos and live events. In July of last year, the company inked a deal with Neon to purchase and co-distribute films geared toward its female, millennial audience.  

As digital startups have struggled to keep pace with high-growth revenue targets, many smaller companies have been snapped up. Bustle, in particular, has acquired a number of brands, including Mic and Gawker, but consolidation has yet to hit the largest companies in the space, including BuzzFeed, Vox Media, Vice Media and Refinery29. 

A spokeswoman for Vice declined to comment and a representative for Refinery29 had no comment. The Wall Street Journal first reported the talks.