Barry Diller’s InterActive Corp. is selling CHMedia, parent of CollegeHumor and a portfolio of related brands, to CH chief creative officer Sam Reich. The transaction will result in more than 100 layoffs.
All but a handful of employees at the once-pioneering satire and online video purveyor were told Wednesday they are being let go, according to emails from employees and tweets from Reich. In a Twitter thread, Reich signaled optimism about keeping CollegeHumor afloat, along with sister brands like Dropout and Dorkly, but he indicated the scale and economics would be quite different at first.
“I can’t keep it going like you’re used to,” he wrote. “While we were on the way to becoming profitable, we were nonetheless losing money — and I myself have no money to be able to lose.” He promised to “do my very best to stay true to the talent, shows, fans, and principles that got us where we are today.”
The flood of streaming video players and the bruising challenge of competing with Google and Facebook for online advertising took a toll on CH Media, as it has with a range of other digital companies. In the humor space alone, Funny or Die has downsized its staff and The Onion has changed hands twice in recent years. Onion staffers have watched anxiously as sister site Deadspin imploded after an epic clash between editorial staff and its new hedge-fund-backed owners.
CollegeHumor was founded in 1999, ahead of the curve in providing Web 1.0 audiences satirical content and a mix of cartoons, text-based humor posts and video. IAC acquired a controlling interest in the property in 2006 and plans to retain a small stake.
Ricky Van Veen, who co-founded CollegeHumor as a student at Wake Forest and rode its early success to a high-visibility stint as a digital entrepreneur. He is now head of global creative strategy at Facebook and worked on the launch of the social giant’s Watch video platform.
IAC, of which Diller is chairman, operates dozens of digital brands like Match.com, Vimeo and the Daily Beast.