Vice Media raises $450 million, bumping valuation to near $6 billion

Vice Media announced Monday that it has raised $450 million in investment from private equity firm TPG.

Vice CEO Shane Smith told CNBC on Monday morning that the new funding puts the media company’s valuation at $5.7 billion.

Vice Media comprises a network of digital sites that provide news and entertainment to millennial audiences. Vice also broadcasts its own cable network called Viceland and produces a news documentary series for HBO.

The company will use the influx of cash to create Vice Studios, a vehicle to bring original, scripted content directly to consumers.

“This will allow us to: build up the largest millennial video library in the world -- enabling Vice to widen our offering to include news, food, music, fashion, art, travel, gaming, lifestyle, scripted and feature films,” Smith said in a statement.

The investment comes amid speculation that Vice Media is eyeing an initial public offering. Smith said that finding a third-party investor in TPG could be a step in that direction, telling CNBC that "It's what we would do if we were going to go public.”

Smith says that using the new funding to build out Vice’s digital and broadcast video networks will show potential public investors the company has a clear revenue plan -- to provide content directly to paying consumers so it can rely less on digital advertising.

Facebook and Google have together taken up an increasing share of total advertising revenue online, leaving digital publishers with a shrinking piece of the pie.

Other investors in the company include 21st Century Fox, A+E Networks and Disney, which has bankrolled two rounds of funding totaling $400 million.

Many see the investments as a way for these legacy media companies to reach a younger audience that is turning away from traditional cable subscriptions in favor of smaller bundles and “over-the-top” digital streaming packages.

TPG has also invested in entertainment properties including production studio STX Entertainment and is a majority owner of talent agency CAA.

Last year, Vice announced a partnership with Disney-owned ESPN to share programming and air the sports network’s acclaimed “30 for 30” documentary series on Vice’s cable network Viceland.

Vice was founded by Smith and Suroosh Alvi in 1994 as an independent print magazine out of Montreal. The company is headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y.

ethan.varian@latimes.com

@ethanvarian

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