The 60-Second Interview: Shane Smith, C.E.O. and Co-Founder of Vice Media
CAPITAL: You guys want to get eyeballs on Vice News, your new video-driven web hub and YouTube channel. If you had to sell someone on becoming a viewer by showing them just one piece of content that's currently on there, which would it be and why?
SMITH: I think it would either be the brand new News Capsule (http://goo.gl/3DOa9K) because it’s perfect for mobile consumption and staying in touch even when you don't have a ton of time. Also our segment on the South Sudan conflict (http://goo.gl/ElEaON) is worth highlighting for underreported, immersive footage that shows our style of international coverage.
CAPITAL: Vice was early to online video. But the market is becoming increasingly crowded as more and more outlets jump in. Are you finding that C.P.M.s are coming down at all? And how big a slice of your revenue is video at this point?
SMITH: Video is about 70 percent of our revenue. Since we make money across TV, mobile and online licensing, as well as sponsorships and partnerships, we're not really affected by traditional C.P.M.-based display advertising. The agencies and auction houses are assuring that this type of monetization is a race to the bottom.
CAPITAL: We've read that Vice is hiring dozens of journalists for Vice News. Can you tell us more about this? Who are some of these people? How experienced are they? Does Vice have the editing chops to manage all of them?
SMITH: We have spent the last couple of months hiring (and continuing to hire) not just journalists but producers, editors, associate producers, fact checkers … the works. They range from very experienced, like Kevin Sutcliffe (former editor of Dispatches at Channel 4 in the U.K.) and Scott Staton (former deputy head of fact checking at The New Yorker) to young phenoms like Tim Pool (famous for embedding with Occupy Wall Street, being a pioneer in live streaming and using Google Glass in the field). We've also brought on seasoned conflict journalists like Ben Anderson and Kaj Larsen to new faces like Academy Award-winning filmmaker Fazeelat Aslam, and Rory Peck Trust Award winner Aris Roussinos. The list goes on ...
CAPITAL: What can we expect from the second season of the "Vice" HBO series, which premieres March 14? Will the show's content intersect with Vice News or are these separate beasts?
SMITH: Second season has more hosts, more countries and more stories. These stories range from America throwing away nearly $100 billion in misplaced aid in Afghanistan, to toxic spills being covered up in the Gulf of Mexico and Fukushima, to the "pacification" of Rio before the World Cup and Olympics, to whole new micro economies that are being generated by legal weed in Colorado.
CAPITAL: Did you end up hiring that kid who cold-called Vice for a sales job via YouTube?
SMITH: Hahaha we had him in to our offices here in NYC. He met with a bunch of our staff and we're currently trying to see if there's a place for him. He's inexperienced but my god what a good dose of gumption.