The New York Times reported Tuesday morning that Vice Media president and cofounder Shane Smith will step down from his role as CEO, to be replaced by Nancy Dubuc, CEO of the A&E Networks.
The 48-year-old Smith has been with the company since its inception as a tiny magazine that covered the music and drug scenes of Montreal. He brought the company to Brooklyn in 1999, where it became the standard-bearer of hipster culture in the 2000s, and transitioned it to media powerhouse in the 2010s, including the creation of Viceland, a TV network started in 2016.
Vice under Smith has not been known as a great place to work. For years, those in the media world complained about skeletal salaries, as noted well in Hamilton Nolan’s 2014 piece in Gawker, “Working at Vice Media Is Not As Cool As It Seems.” In it, he quoted one unnamed employee of the company who described the place as a “handful of grown ups, a thin middle layer and a gaggle of people who also moonlight at American Apparel.” Most recently, the company has been beset by charges of sexual harassment and an unfriendly workplace culture for women. In January, Vice’s digital media chief Mike Germano was shown the door after numerous complaints led to a sexual harassment investigation of his actions.
Smith’s rumored replacement, Dubuc, has worked at the A&E Networks for 20 years. Under her guidance, the network has had hits with shows such as “Ice Road Truckers,” “Duck Dynasty” and “Storage Wars.”
In an interview with the Times, Dubuc says she has the rebellious nature to be a fit at Vice.
“Anyone who knows me well knows I am an entrepreneur, creator, rebel and disruptor at heart,” she told Times reporter Emily Steel. “I have a famous neon sign in my office that blares ‘Who dares wins.’ After 20 years at A&E, the hardest thing will be to leave the people and company I love. But, as a creative executive and leader, and to stay true to my personal mantra, I need my next dare and my next challenge.”
Nothing says “edgy” quite like a personal mantra about being daring.