Simone Oliver steps down as Refinery29 editor-in-chief

Just shy of two years into the role, Simone Oliver is stepping down as global editor-in-chief of Vice Media Group’s Refinery29.

Oliver is leaving the women-focused publication “to pursue other opportunities,” a VMG spokesperson told Digiday. Oliver informed staff Thursday morning; she did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent via email and direct message. The company is starting a search for her successor “immediately,” the spokesperson added. In the interim, Tamar Riley will serve as global managing director and Carli Whitwell will run editorial operations. Oliver’s departure is not part of any other staffing changes or reorganization at R29, according to the spokesperson.

Oliver took on the role in September 2020. Refinery29 co-founder and editor Christene Barberich resigned three months prior after employees took to social media to share accounts of discrimination in the workplace and a lack of racial diversity among staff.

Oliver spent over a decade at The New York Times in roles such as growth strategy editor and digital fashion editor. She then spent a year as digital director at Condé Nast’s Allure. 

From 2017 up until taking on the top editor role at Refinery29, Oliver was a Facebook exec on the global media partnerships teams to develop collaborations with lifestyle publishers and magazines.

At Refinery29, Oliver oversaw content and editorial teams in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Australia. She led an international expansion for the publication, introducing an edition in Australia last summer and expanding Unbothered, R29’s sub-brand for young, Black readers, into the U.K. (In June, Unbothered hosted its first live event, The Glow Up, in Atlanta.)

Oliver also re-launched the R29Style vertical in March and had been overseeing the publication’s foray into live shoppable video, as she discussed during a live episode of the Digiday Podcast recorded during the Digiday Publishing Summit in March.

The VMG spokesperson said May was Refinery29’s highest performing month on TikTok to date, with over 15.4 million views, an increase of 296% month-over-month.

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