Changes to Pedestrian brand licences as CEO announces departure

Matt Rowley, CEO, Pedestrian

Pedestrian refreshed the licensed brands with VICE and Refinery29 in 2022.

As parent company Nine Entertainment makes extensive cuts, Pedestrian Group is transitioning “out of current brand licences,” alongside the departure of Pedestrian CEO, Matt Rowley.

Licensed brands to be dropped include Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Vice, Refinery29, and Kotaku.

In a note to staff seen by Mediaweek, Rowley wrote that “Pedestrian Group has been a highly successful business, but over the past two years, we’ve seen a number of changes that have impacted the financial performance of the licensed brand model, including:

• Our licence partners facing financial headwinds resulting in them experiencing corporate instability and impacting their licensing proposition;
• A decline in the broader advertising market that has impacted all parts of the Nine Group as we read in Mike Sneesby’s note last week; and
• The continued growth of global platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.”

Rowley added that as a result of the licensing change, “I will also be leaving Pedestrian Group and Nine following a transition period. The process to appoint a new CEO is currently underway and will be announced to the team in due course. I have loved my time at Pedestrian Group – it has been a privilege working with you all.”

Pedestrian Group was created in 2018 when Pedestrian, wholly owned by Nine, came together with the Fairfax Allure Media business, whose model was based on publishing licensed global brands in Australia. Pedestrian refreshed the licensed brands with VICE and Refinery29 in 2022, and launched PEDESTRIAN TELEVISION in 2023.

VICE was launched in 1994 and focuses on five key businesses:, VICE STUDIOS, VICE TV, VICE NEWS and VIRTUE, a global, full-service creative agency.

A subsequent staff note sent by director of, Kerri Elstub, noted that “we need to continue to be focused on cost management and improving efficiencies at all times.”

Kerri Elstub, Director,,

Kerri Elstub

“As such, we have decided not to replace a small number of existing vacant roles in the team. Given that these positions are all in the video and news teams, we may need to review our structure to ensure we can continue to deliver our award-winning breaking news service and our exclusive digital Olympics coverage, while meeting our commercial and audience budgets.”

Last month, Nine CEO Mike Sneesby announced to staff that the company would be cutting “around 200 jobs” in its publishing business to “offset the loss of revenue from the Meta deal and challenges in the advertising market.”

Sneesby said Nine was not immune to the “economic headwinds which are impacting many businesses globally.”

The reason given for the cuts was to “offset the loss of revenue from the Meta deal and challenges in the advertising market,” with Sneesby saying at the time that “In order for us to be able to keep investing in digital growth opportunities across Nine, we must continue to responsibly manage costs through the cycle.”

As a result, staff passed a motion of no confidence in Sneesby and the Board.

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