User-generated online videos—whether amateurish or polished—are here to stay. But how do you make any money from them?
The folks at FunnyorDie.com, launched in April 2007 by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Sequoia Capital partner Mark Kvamme, have figured it out. Ferrell's humorous video “The Landlord,” featuring a menacing toddler demanding the rent check, has been viewed more than 50 million times since the site's debut, which has helped turn FunnyorDie.com into the go-to destination for short-form professional comedy. David Spade and Sarah Silverman are contributors. Jerry O'Connell's parody of Tom Cruise's Scientology soliloquy is the site's latest headline-grabber.
The company's new CEO, former ESPN and NASCAR executive Dick Glover, is charged with growing the “OrDie” brand. Armed with a second round of equity capital (to the tune of $15 million), the company has spun off MyBlueCollarTV.com and extreme sports portal ShredorDie.com. More sites are in the works, including the celebrity food site EatDrinkorDie.com.
Glover, who came aboard three weeks ago, talks to B&C's Marisa Guthrie about the company's plans for global domination, its unique filtering process and the public service FunnyorDie provides celebrities starved for a comedic forum.
How did you meet Will Ferrell?
When I was in charge of all of NASCAR's media—all broadcasting, Internet, wireless and new media—I also was in charge of the entertainment division and ran the Los Angeles office. So I was one of the executive producers of Talladega Nights, where I got to know Will and Adam [McKay] and that team.
How are you going to grow this brand? And how will you make money?
We have plans to have anywhere from six to a dozen sites up by the end of this year. Vis-à-vis FunnyorDie.com, first, you have to continue to do excellent content. And second, is the experience user-friendly? How do users get to the content, wherever they are, whenever they want it? By continually creating terrific content and then doing it in a very user-friendly way, that's how you grow. And there are opportunities that come from success in building the Website and building the brand. Will Ferrell's FunnyorDie Comedy Tour is currently on the road and selling out arenas. There are conversations ongoing with a number of people about off-line extensions of the product, whether that's television, or video-on-demand. And there is also an opportunity with advertisers of creating new ways of getting their message and their brand out.
One thing about user-generated content is there's so much bad stuff. FunnyorDie seems to have perfected the filtering process.
The users vote on videos and the bad stuff gets voted off the site. There is that form of editing. We do review submissions; you want to be very careful to avoid truly inappropriate stuff. But I think the best filter is the public.
What can you tell me about the latest spin-off site, EatDrinkorDie.com?
It's about food and wine and recipes and eating and celebrity chefs and celebrity kitchens. It will be a very fresh, upbeat contemporary experience. It is not a comedy site. It is a food site. But do I think there will be things on there that are very entertaining? Yes.
It's nice that you're providing celebrities with a forum for self-expression beyond the confines of their boring day jobs.
[Laughs] I'm not sure I look at it precisely that way, but I do think it is a terrific platform for professionals, semi-professionals and amateurs. It gets great exposure. It's a place to try new things. It's a place to get your work out there. We're finding the diamonds in the rough.
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