Smosh Co-Founder Anthony Padilla to Depart Defy-Owned YouTube Brand

Courtesy of Defy Media
Ian Hecox (center left) and Anthony Padilla (center right) with the cast of Smosh

Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox began posting YouTube videos under the name Smosh in 2005; now Padilla is leaving to explore new creative projects on his own.

Smosh is saying goodbye to one of its own. 

Anthony Padilla is leaving the comedy brand that he co-created more than a decade ago. He announced the move alongside creative partner Ian Hecox in a YouTube video posted online Wednesday morning. 

"I'm so sad to see this chapter of my life coming to a close, but I will continue to support Ian and wish nothing but the best for him and the brand we created together," Padilla said in a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter. "As I begin this adventure, I am excited to return to a feeling that I felt many years ago; a rush of adrenaline following a new and exciting idea. Creating as an individual is a passion that I have wanted to explore for a long time.

"To all those that have followed Ian and I throughout the years, I will always be so grateful for the continued love and support. As scary as this is, I am excited because I know that no matter what happens, I am following what's true to me and what I'm passionate about. I hope to see you all on my journey."

Hecox added, "Anthony and I have been friends for 19 years, and creative partners for the past 11 of those years. Throughout that time, we've built a comedy brand we're so proud of and, side by side, developed content we loved — Smosh wouldn't be what it is today without his contributions."

Padilla and Hecox began posting YouTube videos under the name Smosh in 2005. The then-high schoolers built a name for themselves for their musical comedy, and in 2011, they sold the brand to Alloy Digital, which in 2013 merged with Break Media to become Defy Media.

Over the years, the brand has grown to become much more than its two most famous faces. Today, it's main channel has nearly 23 million subscribers and 6.5 billion lifetime views. It also has more than a dozen castmembers, a presence on several social platforms and multiple channels on YouTube, including Smosh Games and another channel currently being rebranded as Smosh Pit. Many of its new shows, including Not Quite Cancelled and Whoa! Nature Show, focus on castmembers other than Padilla and Hecox. 

Smosh will continue as a brand under Defy following Padilla's departure. This spring, the company tapped Dave Silverstein as general manager of Smosh to lead strategic planning, business operations and brand strategy for the division. 

"When we came together four years ago, one of the big goals was to create brands that were long lasting," Defy president Keith Richman tells THR. "A key piece of that was getting Ian and Anthony involved and excited about that possibility, which was really easy. It was a goal with an unclear date when it would matter, but we're really excited we got to this point." 

The change at Smosh comes as the YouTube talent ecosystem starts to mature. Some of the earliest YouTube creators have been making videos for more than 10 years, and many of them — including The Fine Bros. and Good Mythical Morning — have built brands that extend beyond their own names. "It's a big moment for the YouTube ecosystem," says Richman, who considers Smosh a brand like MTV is a brand, rather than solely a YouTube channel. "For YouTube to really be relevant as a media entity in the long term, they need to be able to have brands that survive and thrive." 

Hecox is remaining with Smosh and continues to have input in the creative direction of the brand. "As Anthony moves on to pursue new creative endeavors myself and everyone at Smosh are excited to see what he does next," he added in his statement. "I'm really looking forward to taking Smosh to the next phase, and we can't wait for people to see what we have coming up." 

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