We live in glorious times. Think about it, a 25-year-old guy with a talent for writing starts an alternative culture magazine in 1994, it evolves into a website, becomes known for its social criticism, and then, one day a bit more than two decades later that now 47-year-old man is a billionaire. That's what happened to Shane Smith, Vice co-founder, journalist, and now, officially billionaire. Vice Media Inc. recently received a $450 million investment from the private equity firm TBG, which put a valuation of $5.7 billion on Vice. Smith is Vice's largest shareholder, ergo, he is now a billionaire. Pretty cool, eh?
Shane Smith was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1969. He graduated from Carleton College with a degree in English Literature and Political Science in the early 1990s. After college, Smith played in punk rock bands in Ottawa and travelled through Eastern Europe. When he returned to Canada, he moved to Montreal.
In 1994, Smith, alongside co-founders Suroosh Alvi and Gavin McInnes bought a youth magazine called Voice of Montreal and changed its name to Vice. The magazine could not have been farther from what Smith eventually turned it into. It had been funded by Canada's government as part of their welfare program. In the beginning, Smith published print articles on alternative culture – mostly music and drugs. By 2006, Vice had evolved to become a digital news source covering social criticism. That same year, Vice expanded into video, which led to massive growth for the company. Today, the brand has a Vice television show and partnerships with a slew of companies including LiveNation, Spotify, and Snapchat.
Smith now joins Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone as one of the richest media tycoons in the country. At 47, he also has a long time to enjoy his riches in comparison to the 86-year-old Murdoch and 94-year-old Redstone. Smith holds 21% of Vice, so with a $5.7 billion valuation, Smith is worth just over $1 billion.
Smith has been enjoying his success. In January 2015, he spent $380,000 – before tip – on a dinner in Las Vegas. He also owns a $23 million mansion in Santa Monica, which he bought without even looking at.