Vice Execs Were Paid Over $1 Million In Bonuses The Day After 'Painful' Layoffs

The company, which went bankrupt in May, axed over 100 jobs before cutting huge checks for senior management in April.

Executives at Vice Media were paid massive bonuses in the weeks before the company went bankrupt in May, reportedly leaving it unable to pay laid-off staff and freelancers for months.

New court filings confirm earlier reports from Semafor that Vice senior executives received performance-related “retention bonuses,” totaling over $1,000,000, on April 28, one day after the company announced a “painful” round of layoffs.

While Vice’s head of news, Subrata De, received a $201,000 bonus, her department was gutted by the cancellation of its Emmy-winning flagship show “Vice News Tonight.” Several other execs, who already commanded salaries in the $600,000 to $800,000 range, received six-figure bonuses while the company slashed over 100 jobs from its 1,500-person workforce.

Vice Media's Los Angeles office building, photographed on May 15, 2023, the same day as its bankruptcy filing.
Vice Media's Los Angeles office building, photographed on May 15, 2023, the same day as its bankruptcy filing.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Vice Media officially filed for bankruptcy in mid-May and has since struggled to pay its laid-off staffers and freelancers both backpay and severance.

Semafor reports that the company was unable to pay severance for laid-off workers in April and May and that earlier this month, an HR representative for the company announced that July severance payments would also be delayed.

According to Vice Union, these delays have left former staffers unable to afford necessities like rent and medical care, forcing the union to set up its own GoFundMe campaign to support colleagues who lost their jobs.

Vice Union responded to the court filings in a statement on Twitter Tuesday morning in which it accused the company of “rampant mismanagement and corporate greed.”

“Less than 24 hours after those layoffs, these execs pocketed their money, like so many VICE executives have before them as they ran the company into the ground,” union representatives wrote.

“We as a union cannot change any of that now. All we can say to these executives is: We see you.”

Representatives for Vice Union told HuffPost on Wednesday that they are “outraged” by the bonuses, saying, “Vice, formally valued in the billions, was ultimately bankrupted by bad business decisions made by management. We’ve now learned that on the same day that union members were laid off—and just days before filing of bankruptcy—Vice’s management shamelessly rewarded themselves with nearly a million dollars in bonus pay.”

“We are outraged. Meanwhile, the Union retained a bankruptcy attorney and is fighting for every cent owed to members. Laid off employees have yet to receive any severance and are likely to get significantly less than what they are owed because of the bankruptcy proceedings. It’s unfair and it’s terrible for employee morale.”

Founded in 1994, Vice rose from a trend-savvy, underground culture magazine into a formidable media empire. Known for its do-anything ethos and hard-hitting investigations, the company was valued at $5.7 billion in 2017.

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