We confess to being online yesterday afternoon while Rupert Murdoch praised Vice on Twitter as a "wild, interesting effort to interest millenials," imagining him curled up with some steak tartare watching Asses of the Caribbean. But the tweet wasn't just a crumb of wisdom tumbling down the emperor's cloak: Rupert Murdoch visited Vice's headquarters in Williamsburg on Friday and met with senior executives for at least 30 minutes. "Someone asked us, 'would you mind staying [in the office] until 6:30? Someone very important is coming by,' " one Vice employee says.
The staffer added that Murdoch first walked through a party the company was throwing before heading upstairs with "a beautiful young blonde woman" who accompanied him. "As he was walking through the party, 'The Boys Are Back In Town' happened to be playing. It was kinda funny."
Murdoch apparently met with CEO and co-founder Shane Smith, president Andrew Creighton, and creative director Eddy Moretti for at least 30 minutes, and it likely didn't end in shouty posturing. Emails to the executives haven't yet been returned.
The Vice staffer stressed that they heard nothing of what Murdoch said, and does not know what the purpose of the visit was. "First this thing with Sir Martin Sorrell happens," the employee noted, referring to the "high eight-figure" injection of capital Vice experienced from ad behemoth WPP last year. "Then we announce that we're starting a 24-hour news channel in 18 countries—this can't just be a coincidence." The employee added, "It ruffled my feathers. It ruffled a few people's feathers."
Asked why it ruffled feathers, the employee said, "Because it's Rupert Murdoch! A lot of people at Vice have a 'we're building an empire' attitude and are indifferent and apolitical about this kind of stuff, but come on. Rupert. Murdoch."
In his announcement of the 24-hour news sites in Abu Dhabi last week, CEO Shane Smith said, "We’re trying to challenge ourselves to be better and start something different. Somebody has to be the voice of the angry youth.” Does Rupert Murdoch want a piece of that "angry youth" action? And who wouldn't watch a Roger Ailes-produced video series with Cat Marnell?