Funny or Die to Cut More Jobs Amid "Tough" Media Climate

Mike Farah Getty H 2016
Charley Gallay/Getty Images

CEO Mike Farah sent a memo to staff Tuesday outlining the cuts.

Funny or Die is conducting a round of layoffs amid fierce headwinds for digital media companies.

CEO Mike Farah announced the cuts Tuesday in a memo sent to staff. "Like a lot of other digital media companies, we're facing tough challenges that we can no longer ignore, so we must adapt," he wrote. The company did not disclose how many employees were impacted. 

This is the second round of layoffs since Farah became CEO of Funny or Die in 2016. The company laid off around three dozen people in August 2016 and shuttered its Silicon Valley office, where it had been experimenting with app development. After those cuts, the company said it had 95 employees, though the number of employees bounced back up to 110 as of last fall. 

The digital media industry at large is bracing for a slowdown in advertising spending in 2018 as competition for online dollars heats up and Facebook and Google continue to eat up the majority of marketing budgets. Reports surfaced in late 2017 that companies including BuzzFeed and Vice Media would not hit their revenue projections due to the climate. Meanwhile, the sale of Mashable for significantly less than its last valuation has signaled to many in the media industry that the appetite for digital publishers from investors and potential acquirers has diminished. 

With its web comedy platform, Funny or Die is not immune to the changes across the digital media landscape. The company has never been solely reliant on digital ad dollars, however. It also operates a production arm that is behind such shows as Hulu's I Love You, America, Netflix's American Vandal and IFC's Brockmire

At one time during Hollywood's heyday of digital media acquisitions, the West Hollywood-based Funny or Die retained a bank to explore a sale, but a deal never materialized. One of Farah's first moves as chief exec was to secure an investment from AMC Networks that saw IFC president Jennifer Caserta join the board.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in November, Farah said, "I don't like to chase. If you are handling your shit, then the path emerges." He also acknowledged to THR it can be hard to scale a business built around premium comedy, where originality is prized, though he pointed to the company's branded entertainment division as an opportunity for growth. 

"Moving forward, we will keep making great comedy," Farah wrote in his Tuesday memo. "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."