Earlier this afternoon Deadline reported that Funny Or Die has laid off an unspecified number of employees. Paste has learned that the personnel affected include the company’s entire editorial team.
The company previously laid off about 30% of its staff during a restructuring in the summer of 2016, citing a need to “double-down and re-focus on making the kind of content that made us a household name in the first place.” The company was reportedly left with 110 employees following those layoffs. It’s unclear how many employees were let go today, but sources tell Paste the cuts eliminated Funny Or Die’s editorial staff—the writers and directors who made the company’s original online content.
Paste has spoken to two former staffers about the layoffs. They estimated that more than two dozen employees were affected. “I would guess around 30,” said one source, noting that some editorial staffers may be moving to other positions within the company. “Some people were offered new jobs, basically,” the source said.
The cuts did not come entirely as a surprise to these sources. “There have been layoffs in the past, but I think there was pretty good will surrounding this one, to be honest,” said the former staffer. “It’s not like we’re devastated or anything like that.”
“I don’t really know about signs leading up to it, other than we could see the digital landscape was changing,” said another former staffer. “I think everyone kind of understood and also saw it coming.”
This source predicted that Funny Or Die will shift its focus away from online content and toward television production. Its TV offerings currently include The Chris Gethard Show on truTV, the Sarah Silverman-helmed I Love You, America on Hulu and the popular, critically acclaimed Netflix series American Vandal. “We’ve had some success in that space in the last year,” said this source. “I think they’re just trying to move more resources in that direction.”
Funny or Die’s CEO, Mike Farah, hinted at this in an internal memo obtained by Deadline:
Dear Funny Or Die Family,
There’s no good way to deliver news like this. The simple fact is that today we have to let go of some great people at Funny Or Die, and it sucks. These people are incredibly smart and talented, and they’ve represented the best of us and our creative spirit. Most important, they’re our friends.
Unfortunately, however, like a lot of other digital media companies, we’re facing tough challenges that we can no longer ignore, and so we must adapt.
It’s a testament to all our staff that we have such a strong company. We made some great comedy this year like Get Out (of the White House), The Shirtless Painter, The Earliest Show, Long Hair Businessman, Overly Excited Tourist, and Zack Morris is Trash, along with an impressive slate of TV like American Vandal, Brockmire, I Love You, America, No Activity, and The Chris Gethard Show.
Moving forward, we will keep making great comedy. 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.
reported that no senior staffers were believed to be included in the layoffs. “We’re very proud of all your amazing creative work,” Farah wrote to Funny or Die staff. “It’s our business model that has to change.”
Funny Or Die declined through a representative to comment “beyond the email we shared with the trade press today.” Paste will update this story as it develops.
Seth Simons is Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Follow him on Twitter.