‘A Sweatshop for Trustafarians’ Inside Vice’s Williamsburg Headquarters

Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photo by Iker Alonso, Flickr

Vice’s headquarters are a 30,000-square-foot amalgamation of converted warehouses in Williamsburg, Brooklyn—hipster capital of the US. [Vice co-founder Shane Smith], who was not made available for an interview with CJR despite repeated requests, has called his office of 425 workers “a sweatshop for trustafarians” and the culture “like an incestuous family.”

The interior matches Vice’s style: gritty yet polished. There’s the meeting room with a stuffed bear, a memento from a video shoot. When I visited in April, the famed office bar was temporarily gone in anticipation of Vice’s upcoming move to a space double the size.

Rings with the Vice logo are worn around the office. New employees sign a non-traditional workplace agreement, acknowledging that, among other things, “sexually provocative and other explicit images, videos and audio recordings are regularly present in VICE’s offices.” And the company throws events like a charity ping pong match in March between senior editor Benjamin Shapiro and Rolling Stone’s Gus Wenner, and last December’s 20th anniversary party, where rapper Lil’ Wayne performed. The event was preceded by Smith personally handing out envelopes of $1,500 in cash to employees at the staff holiday party.

Chris Ip, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the future of Vice.