NY Mag on Vice
NY Mag sort of sums up the basics as, "Shane Smith’s plan for Vice was that, by the time the suckers caught on, he’d never be stuck owning the company he co-founded."
Vice was founded in 1994 when Bullshitter Shane (and his partners) started using money from a government welfare program, to start a magazine in Montreal that was funny, hip, and off-color. Of course the problem with fad-following, is that fads change quickly, and today's hip terms become yesterday's "Bitchen" or "Rad" way too quickly. Shane believed his own bullshit, and became a master of convincing clueless corporate boards that they had their finger on the pulse of youth, and they needed to partner up or get left behind... then he mocked those same rubes for giving him money. He paid (or conned) actors to convince reporters and businessmen alike that a bigger deal was around the corner, so they better get in now. He was a party hound that knew how to show potential investors a good time. And once the company was inflated enough, the founder fled with as much capital as he could, and then was free to blame the eminent demise on his successors.
Don't get me wrong, I think they actually kinda had their fingers on the pulse of youth. (Which isn't THAT hard: be irreverent and tear down every institution of authority). But the problem is today's 18-22 year old's, are tomorrows 30-something's. And as they age, they learn a bit more wisdom and skepticism (so you lose them), and tomorrow's 18-22 year old's, don't give a shit what yesterday's 18-22 year old's liked -- often the opposite. So by going for youth, they were grasping at smoke.
When Obama came around, he was cool -- so they fawned all over him. As the kids aged and wised, he wasn't as cool -- and by then, Vice converted from being a cult-of-youth (editorially), to a progressive tools that was too committed to their ideology to catch the next wind-shift. So you're only young once... and Vice aged out of coolness. Now they're the 80 year old with Juice plastered across her ass, that's stuffed into workout pants that are three sizes too small and she's camel-toeing.