Henry R. Muñoz III is preparing for a little funny business…
The 61-year-old Latino designer, activist and philanthropist has acquired early digital video player Funny or Die.
Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Judd Apatow and Chris Henchy co-founded Funny or Die in 2007. Ferrell and McKay appeared in one of the company’s first breakout clips, The Landlord.
Muñoz bought Funny Or Die from its former stakeholders, a group that included AMC Networks, Turner Entertainment and Sequoia Capital. Ferrell will continue to collaborate creatively with Funny Or Die and serve as an advisor.
Muñoz be sole owner of the Funny Or Die brand, and the acquisition also includes its library, longform slate and social media portfolio of more than 40 million followers.
Financial terms for the transaction were not disclosed.
After the transaction, Muñoz will become chairman of Funny or Die. Mike Farah will continue as CEO. Michele Rosette, who has been the CFO of Funny Or Die since 2016, will remain in her role. Joe Farrell, who oversees Funny Or Die’s longform slate, has been promoted to Chief Creative Officer.
From its roots in short-form, viral video, Funny or Die has evolved into a supplier of series like Brockmire, whose run on IFC ended last year, and this year’s History of Swear Words on Netflix.
Other credits include true crime docuseries For Heaven’s Sake on Paramount + and the Feeding America Comedy Special for NBC.
The pivot followed challenges in recent years as smaller video purveyors have faced daunting economics when reckoning with the forces of tech giants like YouTube and Facebook. Like many digital outlets, Funny or Die had to lay off staff and restructure as it navigated the 2010s.
The arrival of Muñoz will enable the company to deficit-finance certain projects, the company said, promising to reveal more specifics about that strategy at a later date.
A CBS special produced by Funny or Die last fall connected the company with Muñoz and wound up leading to the acquisition. Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event, hosted by Eva Longoria, Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan, celebrated America’s diversity with a focus on Latinx culture and highlighted the impact of Covid-19.
Muñoz has operated at high levels in the realms of politics, art, business, public affairs and philanthropy. In addition to his own design practice, he has launched national movements including Momento Latino, TheDream.US and Latino Victory in support of the Latinx community. He is the cofounder of SOMOS US, a healthcare network in New York treating largely immigrant communities. It has been on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic.
His design firm, Muñoz & Company, is one of the largest and oldest minority-owned design practices in the country. It pioneered an approach to architecture, urban planning, and design that acknowledges the imprint of the Latino community. He also helped with the effort to create a Latino Museum on the Mall in Washington, DC, and is the Finance Chairman Emeritus of the Democratic National Committee, the first openly gay, openly Latino and openly Texan person to hold that position.
“The future of comedy and entertainment is in companies that empower talent and creative forces to make content that reflects the cultural identity of our country at this moment in our history,” Muñoz said in the official deal announcement. “Funny Or Die’s own rich history as a place of innovation and as a voice of new generations speaks for itself and our team led by Mike Farah is poised to seize this unique moment. I understand the responsibilities of owning a brand like Funny Or Die and I am excited to work with our team to make sure we have the resources we need to develop funny, original and diverse new content.”
He went on to note the importance of his sole ownership of the company. “I also understand the importance of being one of the very few Latinos in a position like this in the entertainment industry and I will do my best to make my community, our industry and our country proud as we move forward,” he added. Diversity and inclusion will be more central to the company’s mission moving forward, he noted.
Farah said Muñoz’s “unique background in social activism and business” makes him the “perfect person to guide FOD into the future.” He added, “The company is in great hands with Henry, and he’s brought a new sense of purpose to our mission to empower original, authentic creators in comedy and beyond.”