That may be pushing things, but Alloy Digital is where the Smosh guys hang their hats, and ... you mean you haven't heard of the Smosh guys? Well, Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla are superstars within the alternative video universe: A single sketch about something as dopey as a staring contest can generate three or four million viewers (their channel ranks at or near the top of all YouTube channels). Forbes figures that Smosh-related revenue last year totaled $10 million (half from an advertising partnership with YouTube and the other half from its own merchandising). That's not huge money, but considering what these fellows produce it's downright goofy money. Anyway, Alloy Digital, which describes itself as a "next generation media company for the 12-34 demographic," acquired the Smosh content and this week comes word that venture firm ABS Capital is investing in Alloy Digital to the tune of $30 million. Forbes writer Dorothy Pomerantz says Hecox and Padilla were barely getting by selling T-shirts in their hometown of Sacramento when suddenly they won the lottery: Right format, right time.
"We were looking for content that we could help build into a franchise," says Alloy Chief Executive Matt Diamond. "We felt they were bigger than a few guys putting up videos every week." In 2011 Alloy bought Smosh for an undisclosed sum. The sale gave Hecox and Padilla the money and support they'll need to build Smosh into a media empire. The brand now has five channels, including Shut Up Cartoons, a YouTube-funded channel that features 16 cartoon series. Hecox and Padilla don't work on any of the shows directly, but they are all Smosh-approved. The channel has attracted only 754,000 subscribers, but YouTube is likely to renew it for a second year. (Shut Up Cartoon was the top subscriber gainer when it launched.) They've had better luck with Smosh Games, which launched in September. The channel features a crew of twentysomethings playing and reviewing videogames. Hecox and Padilla drop in twice a week. The channel is signing up an average 8,000 new subscribers per day.