Funny Or Die has a new owner: Henry R. Muñoz III, a prominent business leader, architect, philanthropist and Democratic fundraiser, has acquired the 14-year-old comedy website and production company.
Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed. Muñoz is now the sole owner and chairman of L.A.-based Funny Or Die, whose co-founders include Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Judd Apatow. The acquisition includes the Funny Or Die brand, the Funny Or Die content library, its original production slate, and Funny Or Die’s social media assets with more than 40 million followers.
Muñoz purchased Funny Or Die from the company’s former stakeholders, which included AMC Networks, WarnerMedia’s Turner and Sequoia Capital. With the sale, Ferrell will continue to collaborate creatively with Funny Or Die, serving as an adviser.
“I fell in love with Funny Or Die,” Muñoz said in an interview, explaining that he began acquisition talks with Funny Or Die after working with the company on CBS special “Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event” last year. “I have always loved places that tell stories — museums, theaters.”
According to Muñoz, he was drawn to the combination of being impressed with Funny Or Die’s creative expertise and his sense that the U.S. is at a pivotal moment. “As we‘re moving from crisis to recovery, I felt the combination of these things could be something big and important,” he said. “If there ever was a time when comedy, content and information were important, this is the moment.”
He added, “I have made a career of getting involved in businesses that I don’t know very much about.” But, he said, Funny Or Die has “always been a good business, it will continue to make money and make content that is important to people — and make people laugh.”
Funny Or Die company launched in 2007 with Ferrell’s viral sketch featuring McKay’s 20-month-old daughter playing a foul-mouthed landlord. FOD still maintains a direct-to-consumer brand and presence, but its business has become more geared toward longer-form productions.
For now, Muñoz is keeping the existing management team in place. Mike Farah, who’s been CEO for the last five years, will continue to lead the company. Michele Rosette, who has been CFO and COO of Funny Or Die since 2016, will remain in her role. Joe Farrell, previously EVP of long-form development and programming, has been promoted to chief creative officer. “I wouldn’t have done this unless Mike and Joe Farrell agreed to stay,” Muñoz said.
According to Farah, Funny Or Die’s previous owners were not actively looking for a buyer but that Muñoz ultimately proved to have a persuasive vision for growing the company. Under Muñoz’s ownership and new investment, Funny Or Die expects to begin selectively deficit-financing projects.
“This will help us go from being a production company to being an independent studio,” Farah said.
Prior to the sale to Muñoz, Funny Or Die sold its branded-entertainment division to Roku a deal that included the transfer of several employees including Chris Bruss, previously FOD’s president of digital content and head of its commercial production company. The branded content business, Farah said, “didn’t fit into the vision” of FOD as an indie content studio.