The future of CollegeHumor, the pioneering comedy website that rose to prominence before the rise of YouTube, was thrown into question Wednesday after the brand’s sale resulted in more than 100 layoffs.
InterActive Corp., the New York company that owned CollegeHumor parent CH Media, sold its brands to CollegeHumor’s chief creative officer Sam Reich. Terms of the deal were undisclosed but Deadline reported that “all but a handful” of employees were notified of their layoffs Wednesday.
Reich, who joined CollegeHumor in 2006 was not available for comment, but shared the news on Twitter and said he aimed to continue operating the leading CollegeHumor brands, including Dropout, its comedy SVOD streaming service. “I hope to be able to save Dropout, CollegeHumor, Drawfee, Dorkly, and many of our shows,” Reich said on Twitter. “Some will need to take on bold new creative directions in order to survive. You may not agree with all of them. And this won’t be the last time I ask for your support.”
CollegeHumor was co-founded by Josh Abramson and Ricky Van Veen in 1999 and served as the jumping off point for several popular television writers and shows. Former CollegeHumor employees Dan Gurewitch and Pat Cassels write for “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” respectively, while Sarah Schneider eventually moved on to “Saturday Night Live” for six years before creating comedy series “The Other Two,” the first season of which received an A- review from IndieWire in 2019.
TruTV’s popular “Adam Ruins Everything,” started off as a CollegeHumor webseries, and CollegeHumor brand also had a short-lived sitcom on MTV titled “The CollegeHumor Show.”
One of the most popular CollegeHumor shows was “Jake and Amir,” a long-running comedy series about the dysfunctional working relationship of Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld. The series spawned a dedicated fandom and released over 600 episodes throughout its nine-year run.
Regardless, CollegeHumor did not benefit from the internet’s shifting monetization. Variety previously reported that YouTube and Facebook cracked down on CollegeHumor’s occasionally advertiser-unfriendly content, while the brand’s pitches to TV network executives – Hurwitz and Blumenfeld spent two years on a “Jake and Amir” TV pilot that never moved forward – were shot down for varying reasons.
CollegeHumor launched Dropout to combat those issues in 2018, but it is unclear if the streaming service built significant momentum. Reich tweeted that though CH Media was “on the way to becoming profitable, we were nonetheless losing money” Wednesday.
An InterActive Corp. spokesperson confirmed the transaction but did not elaborate on why the company decided to sell CH Media.
“Sam was the best choice to acquire CH Media and define its next chapter,” an IAC spokesperson said in a statement. “The decision places CH Media with an owner who is beloved by fans, passionate about the business and sees a future we believe in.”
InterActive Corp. owns a number of high-profile brands, including Ask.com, Investopedia, digital media publication The Daily Beast, and several dating apps and websites, such as Tinder, OkCupid, and Match.