AMC Networks has acquired a minority ownership stake in Funny Or Die with plans for a closer collaboration between the comedy video website and AMC’s comedy cable network IFC in the creation of content across television, digital and social platforms. Following the investment, Funny Or Die will continue to operate independently, working with other distributors, networks and studios. IFC president Jennifer Caserta will be joining the Funny Or Die board.
“This was a company perfectly aligned with IFC both in the content that they create, of which we are big admirers, an in the culture that exists,” Caserta said.
As part of the minority investment, IFC and Funny Or Die plan to work together on business and creative initiatives that could include Funny Or Die-branded programming blocks on IFC and additional original content development for television and digital platforms along with ad sales opportunities.
Details on the size of the investment are not being disclosed. Back in 2014, when Funny Or Die — co- founded by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, CAA and Sequoia Capital — hired an investment bank to pursue a sale, the company was seeking valuation between $100 million-$300 million. FOD is believed to have raised $21 million in seven funding rounds since its 2007 launch. In addition to Sequoia, backers have included Reed Hoffman, SV Angel, HBO, and Turner.
The cash infusion from AMC, believed in the tens of millions of dollars, comes on the heels of Funny Or Die slashing 30% of its work force and shutting down its Silicon Valley office in August. The move rose speculation at the time that the company could be preparing itself for a sale under CEO Mike Farah, who was named to the post in May.
“Funny Or Die is not for sale,” Farah told Deadline today. “We have a great new partner in IFC… but are still an independent company.”
IFC and Funny Or Die’s previous collaborations include the upcoming IFC series Brockmire, starring Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet, which originated as a Funny Or Die short.
“We already had worked together, and it became clear that they have the same sensibility and values,” Farah said. The companies are “very complimentary because our core business will continue to be digital and IFC’s will continue to be linear.” Farah said that FOD plans to use the AMC Networks investment “to accelerate our core business and look at expanding in areas outside of our core business.”
He would not elaborate what that areas might be.
“The ability to work together more closely (with FOD) and increase our commitment to delivering more content on all platforms makes for an extremely significant partnership for both companies, and for the millions of fans of our comedy,” Caserta said. “It also marks a small, but important, first step towards my ultimate goal of appearing on Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.”
Between Two Ferns has become a signature show for FOD, attracting the likes of President Barack Obama and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as guests.
Said Funny Or Die founders Ferrell and McKay about the deal with IFC, “We met on Tinder, things moved fast, and now we’re getting married.”
Funny Or Die’s presence in television includes such shows as Billy On The Street on truTV, @midnight on Comedy Central and Funny Or Die Presents on HBO, and comedy specials such as Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles and the upcoming T.J. Miller special on HBO.
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