Comedy.com is back: Years after a failing as a comedy website, the iconic domain is once again back, distributing funny clips online. Only this time, Comedy.com is launching as a mobile comedy network this week, with apps for iOS and Android, but without a full blown Web presence.
Comedy.com’s newest incarnation is headed by Barak Shragai and Dor Mizrahi, who began working on the project in April, and were able to raise $1.5 million in funding in May. By October, they had launched a beta version with a few hundred testers, and this week, the Los Angeles-based startup is officially launching the network with new versions of its app.
“We are building a network for the social generation,” said Shragai in an interview with Variety. The idea is not to compete with YouTube, but instead squarely target viewers who instead watch most of their videos on Facebook, Vine and Instagram.
To that effect, Comedy.com has signed up some two dozen creators from those platforms, including Curtis Lepore, Woody the Great and JoeJoe. In addition, Comedy.com’s apps are also aggregating third-party comedy content. Shragai said that the goal is to move to 70 percent original content by the end of the year.
That’s also when Comedy.com wants to roll out monetization on its platform. Until then, it wants to help creators make more money on other platforms as well by giving them tools to cross-promote their content.
Comedy.com’s apps offer a stream of videos, plus the ability to offer Periscope-like feedback — except, instead of hearts, users are adding “LOLs” to a video. Shragai said that the company wants to develop apps for Roku, Apple TV and other smart TV platforms next. A website, on the other hand, is pretty low on the list of priorities. Sure, the startup has a site, but doesn’t feature any videos on it, and instead just used it to point to its apps.
Speaking of which: Comedy.com got its domain from none other than Dean Valentine, the former CEO of UPN, who tried to turn the site into a Web-based comedy hub eight years ago. Valentine provided the domain in exchange for a stake in the startup, explained Shragai: “We didn’t pay anything.” Investors in the company also include Rhodium, 2B Angels, Sandler Investments and NXTP Labs, amongst others.