Vice Media's Nancy Dubuc Talks Refinery29 Acquisition: "That Was an Easy Lift for Us"

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Nancy Dubuc and 'Fast Company' editor in chief Stephanie Mehta

During the Fast Company Innovation Festival, the CEO shared her thoughts on the recent deal, global expansion for her media brands and wanting to discharge the "bro culture" narrative that remains attached to Vice.

Vice Media CEO Nancy Dubuc participated in the fifth annual Fast Company Innovation Festival on Tuesday in New York. In front of a crowd at the Caldwell Factory in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, Dubuc sat down with Fast Company's editor in chief, Stephanie Mehta, for her first interview since Vice's acquisition of Refinery29.

During her chat with Mehta, Dubuc shared her goal to expand Refinery29's international reach. "[Refinery29 has] a relatively small business but [is] successful in the U.K. and in parts of Germany," said Dubuc. "A little over 50 percent of [Vice's] eyeballs are generated outside of the U.S., all over the world, Latin America, the APAC region, the Middle East, so it's a great opportunity for us to take Refinery as a brand out expansively, much more globally, and that was an easy lift for us."

Even with global expansion, Dubuc told Mehta that she expects to maintain local authenticity for both media brands.

"What keeps us young and the spirit of the brand authentic, the real local spirit, the global expansion of the brand and the fact that we produce so much of our content locally and globally is also what keeps us very authentic," she said. "We're a highly trusted brand and a highly authentic and individualized brand."

Dubuc added: "Our journalists do not necessarily look like the journalists you might see on NBC News or other traditional broadcast news. We spent a lot of time covering climate long before anyone was covering climate."

Vice Media Group on Monday announced that it had successfully completed the acquisition of Refinery29. The site's co-founders and co-CEOs Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano will step away from day-to-day operations and into advisory roles with a new leadership team assembled by Dubuc. In addition, co-founder Christene Barberich will continue her role as global editor in chief of Refinery29 and co-founder Piera Gelardi will continue to shape the future of the Refinery29 brand as executive creative director.

At the Fast Company Innovation Festival, Dubuc — who stepped into her role at Vice in May 2018 to replace Vice's controversial founder, Shane Smith — also spoke about wanting to discharge the "bro culture" narrative that remains attached to the brand. 

"I've been in the seat now almost 18 months and haven't done an interview or had a panel where the bro culture hasn't come up," said Dubuc. "I know that many of my peers who are men have also had cultural situations that they've had to endure at their companies as well, but I don't think have had to endure the same, constant drumbeat about their cultures that we've had to [as women]."