Funny or Die Lays Off Dozens of Staffers

Mike Farah - Publicity-sq 2016
Courtesy of Funny or Die

New CEO Mike Farah is making changes.

Comedy website Funny or Die is cutting approximately 37 staffers and closing their San Mateo, Calif., office, a company spokesperson said Tuesday. 

The company is losing about 30 percent of its staff, leaving 95 employees. The cuts are across the board but focus mostly on engineers working in app development. No senior level executives were a part of the cuts. 

“While Funny or Die has grown as a company over the last several years, we’ve remained committed to creating premium comedy. As we move into the future, we've decided to double-down and re-focus on making the kind of content that made us a household name in the first place," the company said in a statement. "To accomplish that, we've had to reorganize and reduce our staff. This isn't an easy process for any of us. As necessary as these steps may be, we value every single one of the contributors we've had to part ways with. They've been integral in making us the company we are today, and we thank them for their dedication and friendship."

Funny or Die was founded in 2007 by comedians Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy and immediately became viral with its sketch The Landlord. Since then, the company has become known as a powerhouse for online sketch videos with hits like Between Two Ferns and Drunk History, and it has developed a large branded content business. It also has expanded into longer formats, building out a large TV production arm that is behind truTV's Billy on the Street and Comedy Central's @midnight. It recently produced Triumph's Election Special, which has been nominated for an Emmy in the category of writing for a variety special. 

The cuts come two months after Funny or Die upped president of production Mike Farah to the role of CEO. He replaced interim chief Mitch Galbraith, who had taken charge of the company following Dick Glover's 2015 departure to Mandalay Sports Media. Last fall, the company overhauled its digital strategy. 

The shakeups at the company capped off a year of uncertainty for Funny or Die. Earlier in the year, the company — which has taken investments from HBO, CAA, Sequoia Capital and SV Angel — considered selling, including one option that ultimately did not pan out that would have seen it rolled up into Viacom. Tuesday's layoffs would help to make Funny or Die a more attractive acquisition target and could be indicative that sale talks will continue.