Vice Media, now valued at two and a half billion dollars, made a ton of money this year. How much do its employees make? Here is Vice's most detailed information yet.
Vice has long had a reputation in the New York media world (and elsewhere) of paying employees—particularly editorial employees—poorly, in part because they could get away with it. They paid eager young employees with the aura of working at a cool place, rather than with money. As the company has morphed over the past few years from a too-cool counterculture fuck-the-world place into a multibillion-dollar multination multimedia conglomerate, the pressure to pay more competitively has, to put it gently, increased.
Earlier this year, Vice announced that it would be moving its headquarters from its current space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to another, larger space in Williamsburg. Vice promised to hire hundreds of new employees and invest $20 million in office upgrades; in exchange, the state of New York gave the company $6.5 million in tax credits from the Empire State Development.
Vice Media's application for their Empire State tax incentives is a public document. The document was obtained via a FOIA request, and shared with us. There are a few interesting things to be found in it. First (previously reported, but worth repeating), Vice actually says in its application that if it does not get monetary incentives to stay in Brooklyn, more than 95% of its jobs were "at risk" of being relocated to Los Angeles. The idea of Vice packing up hundreds of employees in Brooklyn and shipping them out to L.A. (or laying them off and rehiring on the West Coast) seems preposterous on its face, but that was what the application said: "If Vice is unable to find a space, it will move the majority of its staff to LA where it has sufficient office space to accommodate existing and projected operations." The company's initial application listed 230 out of 240 New York jobs as "at risk" if the new headquarters did not happen.
Second, and more illuminating, Vice was required to give a breakdown of its employee salaries in order to qualify for public subsidies. It has been difficult in the past to get much detail from the company on what their salaries are across different departments. Now we have a document.
A Vice spokesman tells us that the wage numbers in this document "are estimates based on 2013 salaries, and don't include increases and the recent 250+ hires throughout 2014," and apply only to New York-based employees.
Vice has said in the past that its "average" salary for all positions is $70K per year. This chart gives a good bit more detail, showing that writers (unsurprisingly) earn far less than everyone else, and that in fact the only department with an average over $70K is "Sales and Business Development." The state agreed to essentially pay Vice $6.5 million in exchange for its promise to create 525 new jobs in Brooklyn by 2018.
There is no way to verify these numbers, but they are the most detailed and most recent self-reported Vice Media salary figures we've seen this year. Are you a Vice employee? Do these sound accurate to you? Email me. Anonymity guaranteed.