Audit Notes: Vice talks IPO, Wall Street suicides, Slate membership

CEO floats a Twitter-like valuation

Bloomberg reports that Vice Media is considering an IPO, reporting that its CEO says it will have $1 billion in annual revenue by 2016, up from a projected $500 million this year.

That’s not the only eye-popping number:

The company, backed by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, expects to reach that mark in 12 to 18 months, with profit margins targeted to widen to 50 percent of sales from 34 percent now, Smith, 44, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

With young, sometimes tattooed reporters filing stories from a snake-infested island off Brazil or the civil war in the Central African Republic, Vice Media attracts a male viewer coveted by Web and TV advertisers. The growing online, mobile and TV business could have a market value equaling Twitter Inc.’s $28.9 billion if Vice Media goes public, Smith said.

“We’d be stupid not to test what the market would bear,” said Smith, who is chief executive officer. “There’s a lot of money sloshing around in the system, obviously valuations are high.”

Put it this way, if Vice can double its revenue in two years while boosting its already enormous profit margin by 16 percentage points, it will deserve that $29 billion valuation. I wouldn’t bet on it.

— The Awl’s Choire Sicha debunks the Wall Street suicide trend story with some basic math.

Statistically speaking, there should be 23.75 suicides a year in the finance industry in New York City alone. Six suicides in the first quarter of the year would be “right on track” (I know, gross, sorry) for 24 suicides in 2014.

Except then when you read the story, two of these suicides were in London, one was in Singapore (that was Autumn Radtke), one was in Hong Kong, one was in Washington state, one was in Stamford, one was in Syosset, and then only one was in Manhattan.

So, great news! New York City’s finance professionals are vastly under-killing themselves, compared to the population at large. Put that on your tabloid.

— Slate is the latest outlet trying to get cash directly from readers. It’s going with a membership model, not a paywall:

The initiative, said David Plotz, Slate’s editor in chief, will try to coax revenue from its most committed readers and devoted listeners of its popular podcasts. A membership — costing $5 a month or $50 a year — will allow special access to Slate’s writers and live events.

Mr. Plotz said that this did not equate to a paywall and that all content on Slate’s website would still be free. In its infancy, in 1998, Slate erected a paywall and signed up 20,000 subscribers, but the experiment ultimately failed.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,