Group Nine Media Acquires Production Studio Jash (Exclusive)

Ben Lerer - co-founder and CEO of Thrillist Media Group - Getty  - H 2016
Steve Rogers Photography/Getty Images

The two companies previously collaborated on a town hall with Bernie Sanders hosted by Sarah Silverman.

Thrillist parent company Group Nine Media is acquiring comedy-centric production company Jash as it looks to build out its video business. 

As part of the deal, terms of which were not disclosed, the Jash team will work to develop new IP from Group Nine's portfolio of media brands, which also includes NowThis, Seeker and The Dodo. Jash will also help Group Nine explore new distribution paths for its projects and will grow its branded content business.

Jash, which employees 35 people, will continue to operate out of its offices in Culver City, Calif. CEO Daniel Kellison and president and COO Mickey Meyer will report to Group Nine chief brand officer Suzanne Kolb.  

"Jash has refined the development process for IP creation," says Group Nine CEO Ben Lerer. "The talent they work with and the way that they think about content creation are things we want to be our strengths but traditionally haven't been." 

Kellison, a former executive producer for Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Meyer, a former producer at Maker Studios, co-founded Jash in 2012 alongside another Kimmel veteran, Doug DeLuca. It was originally conceived as a YouTube-centric comedy collective for such bold names as Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Reggie Watts, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, and it was one of the channels that YouTube funded through its original channel initiative. But after that money dried up, Jash shifted its focus to producing for a range of platforms. Today, the Jash channel has 121,000 YouTube subscribers (including its network of channels, it reaches over 4 million subscribers), where it posts series including Norm Macdonald Live, and it has also sold series to Verizon's go90 and Snapchat. Meanwhile, Jash also has built out a branded content division and serves as the production company behind Silverman's Netflix special, A Speck of Dust, and Comedy Central's The High Court

Jash and Group Nine first teamed up last year to produce a town hall with Bernie Sanders and host Silverman for NowThis. "We share many sensibilities," says Kellison. "It is a great way to grow and expand the company." 

Social distribution has been a big piece of the video strategy for Group Nine since its creation last December, when Discovery invested $100 million and the four brands were rolled up into one company. (Group Nine says that videos from all its brands receive 5 billion views each month.) But extending those brands to more traditional platforms has always been a goal. "They're doing something most TV networks would kill to be able to do, which is start with new IP that already has massive followings," says Meyer, who will be focusing on building out the Group Nine network. 

While Jash's focus has been on comedy, it will look to produce a range of projects under the Group Nine umbrella, including a previously announced Facebook Watch Series, Home Team: The Las Vegas Golden Knights, that is being co-produced by the NHL. Other projects are in the works at Thrillist, Seeker and The Dodo. Says Lerer: "We believe the future of our brand is going to be in making amazing IP," explaining that the Jash acquisition will add more resources to the company's small Los Angeles presence.