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Vice: A Company Built on Bluff

Venture capital investors who have thrown money at digital news startups would do well to read this in-depth New York magazine story about Vice’s history. It confirms how brilliant co-founder Shane Smith was at overhyping his startup and how easily investors (like much of the mainstream press) swallowed it. An anecdote about an early fundraising meeting with Intel was telling: concerned that Intel not realize how poor Vice was, the company constructed a Potemkin village-like office for the Intel meeting, complete with a “fancy Japanese toilet” installed at the last minute.

Over the past few years, Shane Smith managed to sway lots of big media companies, as well as some respected media journalists, but the truth was always evident for anyone willing to look past the hype.

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