The notice did not disclose a number for the staff reductions, but the last serious round of cuts in summer 2016 left the company with a bit less than 100 workers.
An internal memo from company chief Mike Farah obtained by Deadline blamed marketplace conditions for the cutbacks. Once-high-flying digital brands from BuzzFeed to Mashable have crashed back to earth in recent months as the advertising business undergoes a correction and heavy spending content and staffing cannot be compensated for with adequate revenue gains.
“Like a lot of other digital media companies, we’re facing tough challenges that we can no longer ignore, and so we must adapt,” he wrote.
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Founded by CAA and Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy, with Judd Apatow a principal partner, Funny or Die scaled quickly as its digital video strategy expanded to film and TV series. AMC Networks took a stake in the company in 2016, aiming to pair its content with that of its IFC cable network. Other investors include Time Warner and Sequoia Capital.
Here is the Farah’s full memo:
Dear Funny Or Die Family,
There’s no good way to deliver news like this. The simple fact is that today we have to let go of some great people at Funny Or Die, and it sucks. These people are incredibly smart and talented, and they’ve represented the best of us and our creative spirit. Most important, they’re our friends.
Unfortunately, however, like a lot of other digital media companies, we’re facing tough challenges that we can no longer ignore, and so we must adapt.
It’s a testament to all our staff that we have such a strong company. We made some great comedy this year like Get Out (of the White House), The Shirtless Painter, The Earliest Show, Long Hair Businessman, Overly Excited Tourist, and Zack Morris is Trash, along with an impressive slate of TV like American Vandal, Brockmire, I Love You, America, No Activity, and The Chris Gethard Show.
Moving forward, we will keep making great comedy. Our website and ancillary platforms will continue to feature work by emerging comedians and longtime friends and family. We will still develop, produce, and sell premium comedy in a wide range of formats for a wide range of platforms, from short-form digital series to branded content and long-form television and everything in between. We’ll keep producing all the same edgy social content every single day. With an audience of 52 million people and growing, we are not going anywhere for a long time.
I’d like to express my sincere thanks to everyone we’ve had to let go. We’re very proud of all your amazing creative work; it’s our business model that has to change. I’d also like to thank our board members, who have been incredibly supportive throughout this process, and are fully behind the new plan.
For those staffers who are moving forward with us, over the next few days we’ll be holding a series of meetings with individual departments, followed by an all-hands on Friday afternoon. We’ll explain exactly what these changes mean for you, and discuss in-depth the future direction of the company. We’re committed to being both respectful and transparent.
Ultimately, who we are is the comedy we’ve created: from the Landlord to Between Two Ferns to The 2018 Rose Parade Hosted by Cord & Tish. Over the last ten years, that comedy has defined FOD, whether it’s three minutes long or thirty, whether it’s on Instagram or IFC. No matter what else may change, creating high-quality, premium comedy is what will continue to define us, this year, and for the next ten.
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