This story was written by Rafat Ali.
HBO, which couldn't make its own comedy site work, is taking a small stake in Will Ferrell's comedy company FunnyorDie.com. The terms were not disclosed, but the Variety story says the stake is less than 10 percent. As part of the deal, the cable company owed by Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) has commissioned 10 half-hours of programming from the site. Also, the two will work on partnerships, from the live comedy tours that FunnyorDie is developing to a possible FunnyorDie-branded programming block on one of HBO's offshoot channels.
HBO launched its own comedy JV site with AOL called ThisJustIn, but closed it in August last year after little traction. The cable co had already been working with Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gary Sanchez Prods. on the upcoming series "East Bound and Down." That led to exploring more options to work together, and led to this investment. Wouldn't be surprised if HBO looked at buying the company outright
Since launching couple of years ago, FunnyOrDie has weathered dire prognostications about its short life, but with enough funding and celeb power, has expanded beyond that and added more in sports, gaming and food, and expects to add more video verticals. It raised about $15 million in a round late last year from Sequoia and other unidentified institutional investors, and the Variety story says the round valued the company at about $100 million.
At our EconSM conference in late April, we did a spotlight interview with Dick Glover, the CEO of the company, and Chris Henchy, one of the co-founders of the site. The full video is embedded below, and a writeup of the interview is here.
By Rafat Ali