Photo: The Wrap
Laffster, a new digital comedy start-up backed by Paradigm and Greylock Partners, has launched “Mock the Vote,” a free iPhone app offering political humour from the likes of The New Yorker, Funny or Die, and Maker Studios.The app, timed (barely) for the 2012 election, is stage one for the start-up to leverage its proprietary technology to help users find all things funny on the web – from videos to articles to cartoons. “Mock the Vote” will offer both original content from its partners and aggregated content from Buzzfeed, The Onion, and “The Daily Show.”
Laffster just closed a $750,000 seed round, led by Paradigm, J.P. Williams of Parallel Entertainment, Greylock Partners, and Maker Studios executive Chris Williams.
“In the U.S. alone, 38 billion videos are watched every month online and comedic content accounts for more than half of that,” founder Dan Altmann told TheWrap. “But there’s no real discovery tools to drive users to what they should be watching. We set out to build that technology.”
Discovery is the buzzword in online content these days, and though Pandora or Spotify have mastered it in music, video remains more of a challenge. Content creators have complained about how hard it is to find videos on platforms like YouTube and Yahoo, leading to the launch of discovery-focused companies like Chill and #waywire.
A former advertising executive at College humour, Altmann founded Laffster with Eric Posen and Geoffrey Plitt. The start-up graduated from the Santa Monica, Calif.-based accelerator MuckerLab, and counts Josh Brooks, a former MySpace executive, and Nicky Weinstock, current head of Innovation Films, as advisers.
“Comedy is a great genre for digital delivery,” Lawrence Antoine, EVP of Business Development for Paradigm, said in a statement. “Laffster has the technology, business plan, and acumen to make a significant impact in the comedy space and we welcomed the opportunity to partner with them.”
Laffster’s founders have worked with researchers to examine, tag, and categorize comedic content much like Pandora does with music. One such tag is timing — how close to a certain political event a piece of satire is.
The real key to Laffster’s business may be working with existing third-party platforms like Funny or Die and CollegeHumor. It hopes to use its technology to help optimise Funny or Die content for discovery and personalisation.
It would then earn revenue through those deals by sharing advertising revenue or by getting paid as a consulting company that charges for use of its technology.
“The technology is something we can leverage for optimised viewing on other sites,” Altmann said. “We want to be able to build the technology out to show that when it comes to content that’s humorous, we can drive engagement and discovery like nobody can.”
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