Comedy Start-Up Laffster Partners with New Yorker, Maker Studios for Political Humor App

Laffster gets $750,000 in seed money from Paradigm and Greylock Partners

Laffster, a new digital comedy start-up backed by Paradigm and Greylock Partners, has launched “Mock the Vote,” a free iPhone app offering political humor from the likes of The New Yorker 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.

Enter Laffster.

A former consultant, 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 optimize Funny or Die content for discovery and personalization.

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 optimized 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.”

For the Record: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Funny or Die as a partner.

  • Spencer

    Very cool!

  • Chris F

    it's great to see LA take the lead on this crucial front of entertainment

  • Bryan F.

    This app is actually really awesome. You had me at “The Onion”.

  • Chelsea

    This is awesome, can't wait to see what the future has instore for Laffster!

  • Lafman

    Mock the Vote rules! It reminds me of the first time I called Dial a Joke years ago…when I need a laugh fix I can now look to Laffster!

  • Jacqs

    sounds like a great way to cut through the crappy videos to find the lol-worthy. lord knows this election has provided a plethora of both.

  • Jose Segura

    The only way to make politics tolerable?? Add humor too it!! Great app guys!!

  • Humberto Herrera

    Finally something serious about politics. JK. Well so far 3 coworkers have come up to me to talk about this thing in the last week. I wonder what is going to happen with the product in the long run, but so far, it's getting serious traction.

  • zuckas

    I love how everyone is pumping up the app. I am in the same boat. What's really great is that the co is down in Venice… and it's freaking successful. Silicon Beach all the way, and it freaking rocks too. Flawless!!! Go team Laffster!!! Represent…