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Vice CEO drops hints about getting ready for a 'theoretical IPO'

  • Co-founder Shane Smith says a new $450 million cash infusion from TPG helps his company take the next step.
  • Pressed for possible IPO timing, "we'll go when we're ready," he says.
  • Previous investors Disney and Fox did not participate in this funding round, a Vice spokesperson says.

Shane Smith, co-founder and CEO of Vice Media, told CNBC on Monday that a new $450 million cash infusion from private equity giant TPG is going to help his company take the next step.

Dodging a direct question about any plans Vice has to become a publicly traded company, Smith said, "It's what we would do if we were going to go public ... get a third party paying and start building our book, and bringing in revenue on a sort of hockey stick basis, so that ... theoretical IPO would look very sexy."

Pressed further for timing, "we'll go when we're ready," said Smith, who was interviewed on "Squawk on the Street" from the sidelines of the Cannes Lions creativity festival, which brings together the advertising, entertainment and design communities.

"In this day and age, what this last bevy of IPOs shows us, is you have to have a pretty good revenue story, especially a media company," he explained. "Our revenue story is getting better and better. But it has to be more consistent; and over years, and years, and years."

The TPG investment gives Vice, a digital media company focusing on a younger audience, a $5.7 billion valuation. Previous investors Disney and Fox did not participate in this funding round, according to a Vice spokesperson.

Smith launched Vice in 1994 as a punk rock magazine and branched out — turning the brand into an online video, television and mobile powerhouse.

Vice is also creating a subscription service to build the "largest millennial library for video content out there," Smith said. "AT&T is buying Time Warner for a reason. All these companies are going to buy up the IP. And then when it's actually millennial IP that everyone realizes they need they'll come to me."

But he said he won't look to take on Netflix. "I'm not going after Netflix; that would be suicide."