Will Ferrell site, Funny Or Die, raises $3 million

Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:58pm EST
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By Alexander Haislip

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Internet comedy site Funny Or Die, supported by actor Will Ferrell and seeded by Sequoia Capital, has raised $3 million in cash from a single, undisclosed investor.

The financing also includes an additional $3 million commitment for "in-kind contributions for marketing, publicity and promotional support for programing," according to a regulatory filing.

It is not clear if the regulatory financing augments a $15 million investment reported by Portfolio Magazine earlier this year, or if it is a tranche of that financing.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Funny Or Die also sold an equity stake of less than 10 percent to cable channel HBO during the summer, according to reports. That transaction may be what triggered the recent filing. The $3 million investment is the only filing the company has made with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Sequoia Capital's Mark Kvamme, a company director and backer, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The company has evolved from a comedy-only video site into a multi-property media company, with video portals for cooking advice, video gaming, extreme sports, British comedy, Brazilian comedy and a site with videos of heroes called "GreatAmericans" -- the only of the company's sites not branded with the "…or Die" moniker.

Some of the company's spinoff attempts were unsuccessful. It killed BlueCollarorDie.com over the summer after an unsuccessful rebranding attempt. The site was the product of a partnership with Parallel Entertainment, the management company that worked with working-class comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

The Funny Or Die flagship site has yet to reprise the success of its April 2007 hit "The Landlord," which featured Ferrell and a two-year-old named Pearl. The video has been viewed more than 60 million times, according to the site's own statistics.

Funny Or Die's board of directors includes Kvamme, company CEO Richard Glover, repeat entrepreneur Randy Adams, Creative Artists Agency executive Michael Yanover and comedy writer Adam Mckay, who works with Ferrell and is the father of Pearl.

(This article first appeared in Private Equity Week, www.pewnews.com, a publication of Thomson Reuters)

<p>Actor Will Ferrell is interviewed at the MuchMusic television station to promote his new movie "Semi-Pro" in Toronto February 27, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>