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 his 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 being 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.
Muñoz’s relationship with Funny Or Die began in October 2020 with the “Essential Heroes” special. Hosted by Eva Longoria, Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan, the CBS special celebrated America’s diversity with a focus on Latino culture.
Farah said he and Muñoz developed a “shorthand” in speaking with each other as they envisioned FOD’s future as a stronger independent studio — one that could provide a more diverse range of representation in its TV and digital projects. Said Muñoz, “I’m not trying to make Funny Or Die a ‘Latino company’ but the conversations with Mike were happening in the context of equity.”
Muñoz said he first became familiar with Funny Or Die a few years back, when he was working with the Democratic National Committee and he was part of the team considering whether President Obama should appear on FOD’s archly awkward talk show “Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis” to promote his national healthcare plan. (Obama did, of course.)
Over the past year, Funny Or Die productions have included the final season of IFC comedy series “Brockmire”; “History of Swear Words” on Netflix; original true crime documentary series “For Heaven’s Sake” on Paramount Plus; a new animated season of cult comedy “No Activity” for Paramount Plus; the “Feeding America Comedy Special” for NBC; and digital series “Call & Response” and “Best Presidency Ever.” In addition, FOD is currently producing comedy series “Guilty Party” starring Kate Beckinsale, which is slated to air later this year on Paramount Plus.
Muñoz is former chairman and CEO of Muñoz & Co., one of the largest and oldest minority-owned architecture, urban planning and design practices in the country. He helped found the effort to create a Latino Museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C., serving as chairman of the commission to study the creation of the National Museum of the American Latino. In addition, for six years, he served as finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, the first openly gay person and first Latino to hold the position (as well as the first “openly Texan” person).
Muñoz also has launched national movements including Momento Latino, TheDream.US and Latino Victory to support the Hispanic community through awareness, college funding and electoral support, respectively. He is co-founder of SOMOS Community Care, a healthcare network in New York City focused on treating immigrant communities.
Muñoz and his husband, Kyle Ferrari-Muñoz, were married in 2017 in a ceremony officiated by Joe Biden. The couple currently reside in New York, New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and D.C. with their four rescue dogs.
For the sale to Muñoz, LionTree served as financial adviser to Funny Or Die and Stubbs Alderton & Markiles was legal adviser.
optional screen reader
Read More About:
Source: Read Full Article