Now, Disney says all of the money it put into Vice has been incinerated: In investor filings Wednesday, Disney said it no longer thinks it will ever get any return on the investment it made in Vice — a company that at one point was supposedly worth $5. 7 billion.
One last caveat: You can’t say that Disney is saying Vice Media isn’t worth anything at all — just that Disney thinks its investment isn’t going to be worth anything.
But one bit of language in Disney’s quarterly filing Wednesday is telling: Disney describes the $353 million “impairment charge” it took on Vice as a “write-off” — which in accounting-speak means there’s nothing left to get rid of after this. It’s all gone.
Here are the Disney/Vice particulars: Disney told investors Wednesday it had wiped out $353 million of the money it had previously put into Vice.
If you’ve been doing the math, you’ll note that $353 million plus $157 million is $510 million — well more than the $400 million Disney invested directly in Vice.
Share Disney put more than $400 million into Vice Media.
That followed an announcement last fall that Disney had knocked down the value of its Vice investment by $157 million.
Disney put more than $400 million into Vice Media.
Since Disney won’t comment, we will assume that the additional sum includes Vice investments that Disney owned through A&E, the TV programmer that Disney owns along with Hearst, which also backed Vice; as well as $70 million that 21st Century Fox sunk into Vice.
In any case, Vice is certainly worth much less than Disney and many other big, sophisticated media companies thought quite recently.
And while Disney can’t feel great about losing money on Vice, it will be quite happy that it didn’t pay billions for all of it — an idea that seemed very plausible as recently as 2016.
As the media industry consolidates and fewer players control the information and entertainment that the world consumes, Vice will always be there with a megaphone for the more than half of the people on this planet under the age of 30 who crave independent world-class content.