Or-Die Networks: Verticalizing Vertical Search

I’ve tracked FunnyOrDie.com since its inception, largely because our Sequoia partner / board member, Mark Kvamme, was heavily involved in its creation. Mark’s son, Michael, an aspiring stand-up comedian, came up with the idea. The site launched with a now famous video entitled The Landlord featuring Will Ferrel, below, which has been viewed more than 50M times. If you’re so inclined, here it is.

Frankly, it’s not my favorite sketch, but let’s not miss the point. The beauty of FunnyOrDie is that it becomes not only a vertical comedy-focused YouTube, but it also becomes the center of a community of comedians. I have a friend or two in that community and they’re all aware of the site and use it frequently. Plus, I’d say the mixing of uploaded user-generated and professional (e.g., Will Ferrel) content was another clever innovation.

The reason for my catchy headline is that some people would say that video search itself is a form of vertical search. Ergo, YouTube is a form of vertical search. Now, when you generalize the idea of FunnyOrDie to other market segments, you then end up verticalizing vertical search.

And, as I learned the other day, that’s precisely what they’re doing. They’ve transformed the concept from FunnyOrDie.com to Or-Die Networks and have launched two sister sites: ShredOrDie with Tony Hawk and BlueCollarOrDie with Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, and (my favorite) Larry the Cable Guy.

The formula, it appears is:

  • Identify a category
  • Get a relevant celebrity to lend branding and provide some content
  • Leverage the technology platform

Clever stuff. I wish them luck.

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