Vice Media co-founder and CEO Shane Smith, the unconventional executive who spun the underground Canadian magazine into a full-fledged digital media dynasty, is reportedly in talks to step down.
Variety reports that A&E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc — who today announced her departure from that company — is in “advanced talks” to replace Smith as CEO of Vice. Until Dubuc’s successor has been named, retired A&E exec Abbe Raven will serve as interim CEO. Smith, who developed a close relationship with Dubuc while partnering on Viceland, Vice’s fledgling cable television venture, is reported to be staying on board at Vice as chairman.
In recent months, Vice has been plagued by a deluge of sexual harassment allegations against top-tier executives — including its president and chief digital officer — as well as claims that the company’s culture reeks of chauvinism. Vice subsequently formed an advisory committee to combat harassment, champion inclusivity, and institute pay parity. “We have failed as a company to create a safe and inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and thrive,” Smith and co-founder Suroosh Alvi conceded in an apology.
In addition to these controversies, Vice, like many of its digital media contemporaries, is facing headwinds, notes Variety — including $100 million in missed revenue goals last year.
Dubuc has been at A&E Networks for roughly 20 years, and has served as CEO for the past five — overseeing its illustrious channel roster, which includes A&E, History, and Lifetime. A&E is jointly owned by Walt Disney and Hearst. Dubuc was also one of the top candidates in the running to succeed former Amazon Studios head Roy Price, who departed the company amid sexual harassment allegations. That job ultimately went to former NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke.
“As a creative executive and leader, and to stay true to my personal mantra, I need my next dare and my next challenge,” Dubuc teased in a statement announcing her departure from A&E.