A lot of fond memories in front of microphones, and in front of cameras, with these people.

VICE and Other Endings

Patrick Klepek & Rob Zacny

There will be thousands of words spilled about how VICE, a media company once irresponsibly valued at $5.7 billion, ended up here, gutting its most valued employees in a desperate bid to claw something—anything—for the C-suite still wandering about its empty hallways. But Remap doesn't exist without VICE, because VICE, however irresponsibly perceived even at its cultural heights, hired people like Austin Walker and let them run wild, even if only for a little while.

The rumors of VICE.com being shut down entirely, taking the entire Waypoint archive with it, appear unfounded—at least for now. The articles, podcasts, and everything else Waypoint touched over those seven years have been archived, if you know where to look. We'd love to do something with them, but...well...

In the meantime, Rob and Patrick are feeling nostalgic, however bitter their final days at VICE were. It was a defining part of their lives, and always will be.

Rob: Patrick, I certainly didn’t intend to spend most of last Thursday doing an emergency crash-backup of all my work at Waypoint. I don’t know for sure that they’re going to be deleting the website, but we both heard that news as part of a rumor that the post-bankruptcy ownership of the company were going to shut down online editorial and lay everyone off. That part of the rumor came true later in the afternoon, so it seems like a safe bet that someday very soon the archives of Waypoint and every other part of VICE Digital will be gone. So I now have three different backups, using different methods, of all my work at VICE: terribly laid-out “Save as PDF” version of the articles, slightly ungainly but much nicer backups at Authory, and then really good PDFs that our old comrade Matthew Gault was able to snag using a custom scraper that his wife and a friend built. That’s probably the closest I’m going to get to having an exact record of the things I wrote and edited during my time there.

As badly as things played out with VICE, going through the archive of everything I worked on was a reminder of how happy I was working at Waypoint. It was obnoxious having to go through six years’ of work in the space of a morning, but it was also a fun trip down memory lane. It was a bad company, but mostly it was good times with good people doing good work.

Because let me tell you, there are some places I worked where to this day I can hardly bring myself to look at my author page, even if I want to save stuff for my portfolio.

A long time ago I wrote for a UK-based PC gaming blog that promised a ton of career growth as soon as the business took off. I could call myself the US editor if I liked, but I’d work long hours for little pay in the meantime, and that pay plus reimbursements would come weeks or months late as a matter of course. I did some great work over there, I felt I was working alongside an incredibly strong slate of writers and editors (many of whom have gone onto great things) and I believed our boss cared about us because otherwise his odd den-mothering of the staff and frequent offering of unsolicited advice and opinions about personal matters would have been very odd. At least as odd as the flashes of ugly temper we all glimpsed at times, as well as his habit of having a couple staffers who were his golden children and a couple who were his whipping boys. For all his flaws, and flaws of the trend-chasing website he ran, he cared about good writing and seemed to care about writers.

Then one day, there was a new second-in-command at the website, a complete stranger, hired over me and all my colleagues at the website, for a position we'd not known was going to exist. I wasn’t entirely surprised: a few disputes over late payment had erupted into fights in staff meetings and while things had been patched over, a chill had settled into my relationship with my bosses. I started freelancing more for other outlets that paid better per piece, even if they didn’t give me as much work in aggregate. My bosses hated their peer outlets and I knew this was probably going to be perceived as disloyalty but, again, it was clear that they weren’t looking to their staff for taking leadership positions as the business grew.

Anyway, one day I’m on a rare semi-vacation with MK housesitting at a friend’s place in the woods of western Massachusetts and I get an email from Tom Ohle, one of the most ubiquitous PR reps at that time, a guy who seemed to represent just about everyone and somehow maintained a personal relationship with every staff writer and regular freelancer in the business. He hit me up at my personal email to ask about code he was sending out, because (he explained) his email to my company address had bounced back to him a few days earlier.

And that is how I found out I had been fired.

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