Vice: A Digital Media Company based on the Founders’ Personality
We, as humans, are all similar to each other in some way. We all share human thoughts and human feelings; however, we are all distinctively different in the way we perceive life. Our unique individuality forms our different personalities. Hence, the latter determines our diverse approaches and perspectives in life. Being the sons of immigrants; Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi, founders of Vice media, reflect their personalities through creating their digital media platform. Vice, the digital media company, is considered as one of the most competitive new media ventures due to its distinguishable approach in engaging audience.
Vice began in 1994 in Montreal as a printed local magazine Voice of Montreal. After that, the founders realized the importance of market size. They decided to expand globally, and focus on a niche audience in larger geographical markets by moving to the United States. Vice was able to build a global youth brand in New York, and to prove its position as a global media company in 34 countries. Vice’s management strategy in depending on the nature and the sources of its competitive advantage stacks up along Porter’s Five Forces. Porter’s “five forces” shape the structure of all industries and establish the rules of competition and the root causes of profitability within an industry.
Currently, the digital media companies market is highly competitive. Thus, Vice has a high intensity of Porter’s force: “Competitive Rivalry within the Industry”. Vice’s indirect competitors could be many of the digital media ventures, such as, BuzzFeed, AJ+, Business Insider, and Mashable. Vice has several competitive advantages that makes it special. Vice offers unique and valuable verticals in the marketplace. It does things different than its rivals on a day to day basis. “Vice’s narrative approach combined with ethnographic research allows for a cutting edge and groundbreaking style of journalism that is both captivating and informative. Vice has shown no limits to the extent they will go to cover important and even dangerous stories”. Vice is known for its hard work and free flow of ideas. Vice’s reporters convey HOW they felt when covering a story rather than offering objective point of view. It is managed to reflect what Alvi described as “stupid things in a smart way, and smart things in a stupid way”. Moreover, Vice’s serving of a very specific niche is also considered as one of its competitive advantages. Vice’s content targets the youth in general, and it targets males from 18–34 specifically.
Vice is also facing the Porter’s force of: “New Entrants Threat”. People’s high demand and curiosity for trying new digital media platforms encourage new players to evolve newer and more innovative ventures to enter the market. Consequently, Vice’s strategy requires innovation and adaptability in order to avoid people’s migration to other digital platforms. It has to maintain its fast changing procedure to meet the new demands and interests. For instance, if a new digital platform gained widespread popularity, it could cause lower audience on Vice. This means a thorough understanding of the market’s needs and ensuring a good experience for users are the main factors to keep the platform’s audience engaged and adhere to it.
In conclusion, while several digital media companies are based on technology, Vice’s reliance is based on its founders’ personality. Vice’s competitive advantages can be summarized in their “edgy”, “immersionist”, “freestyle”, and “soft headed” content approach. Vice can sustain its competitive advantage by diversity, adaption to new demands, and keeping their “unique” style in reporting news. Vice has to understand the market’s needs since it is no longer a niche player and it is very close to being considered mainstream. Paying attention to the latest audience demands will reduce the probability of shifting to other digital media platforms.