Funny Or Die is putting its aging web platform out to pasture.
Starting this summer, the digital comedy outfit will move FunnyOrDie.com over to Vox Media’s platform — and under the multiyear pact, the two companies say they’re exploring potential collaborations on long-form entertainment.
Back in 2007, when Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Chris Henchy and their partners launched Funny Or Die, social media and online video players Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were still in their infancy, and Snapchat didn’t even exist. FunnyOrDie.com was built and has been maintained over the years in-house as a proprietary, independent platform.
“It’s served us very well for the last 10 years,” said Chris Bruss, president of Funny Or Die. “But as things have changed so much over the years — and a lot over the last year or two — it was important for us to think about the future of FunnyOrDie.com.”
Funny Or Die is not laying off additional employees as a result of the website migration, according to a company rep. FOD announced a round of layoffs in January; the engineers on the tech team who have managed FunnyOrDie.com will stay on through the transition to Vox Media.
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The companies began talks in September 2017. After evaluating various options, according to Bruss, Funny Or Die decided to throw in with Vox Media. Later in 2018, FOD will run its website and digital media business on Vox Media’s advertising, technology and audience platform (called Chorus). Funny Or Die will remain editorially independent and maintain an independent sales team but FOD will use “the ad stack” that Vox Media has created, which Bruss called a “best-in-class product.”
“As we looked to improve where the site was at now — and future-proof it — we feel that we are in good shape for years to come with Vox Media’s tools and their team,” Bruss said. As part of the move to the new platform, FunnyOrDie.com will undergo some design changes, he added.
FunnyOrDie.com will also join Concert, the publisher-driven marketplace launched by Vox Media and NBCUniversal (which is an investor in Vox Media).
In May 2017, Vox Media and Bill Simmons Media Group announced a similar partnership, bringing sports, culture and tech brand The Ringer onto Chorus. The Ringer also is available to brand advertisers via Concert and is represented by Vox Media’s sales team.
Vox Media and Funny Or Die, in addition to the main publishing and ad-tech infrastructure part of the deal, are also exploring co-developed video and production projects. That’s in very early stages, but at a high level the idea is that they would tap into Funny Or Die’s comedy talent pool and the production capabilities of both companies.
“Obviously Funny Or Die has really premium shows they have sold and produced, and we have along the same lines started to do the same,” Vox Media COO Trei Brundrett said.
Funny Or Die, whose investors include AMC Networks, produces shows like “Brockmire” for IFC, “Billy on the Street” and “The Chris Gethard Show” for truTV, “American Vandal” for Netflix, Sarah Silverman’s “I Love You, America” for Hulu and “No Activity” for CBS All Access.
The pact between FOD and Vox Media comes as the digital-media sector has been beset by revenue shortfalls amid increased competition. Last month, Vox Media laid off about 50 staffers as part of scaling back or winding down certain initiatives including native social video. The company’s businesses include SB Nation, Eater, the Verge, Vox, Curbed, Recode and Code Conferences, Racked, Polygon, Vox Entertainment and the Vox Media Podcast Network.