MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — Most entrepreneurs dream of building a company, selling it in a great exit and then moving on to the next adventure.
For Gregg and Evan Spiridellis, they got to experience that thrill twice in 2019.
First, they sold their animated e-card business JibJab in February to private equity firm Catapult Capital. Then in early May, their animated kids entertainment spinoff StoryBots was acquired by Netflix. (Terms weren’t announced.)
“It does feel good, because it’s the right strategic move,” says Gregg Spiridellis, who serves as the company CEO. “But it’s an emotional experience. This is our baby for 19 years.”
JibJab was started in 1999 as one of the first online ventures to marry video with creation tools. It became a popular app for creating selfie style GIFs and videos and made money by selling subscriptions to consumers.
The brothers introduced “Ask the StoryBots” in 2012 as a YouTube series, where it racked up over 500 million views. The show features five animated creatures who are said to live in our phones and computers and explains the world as we know it to children. (Questions such as: “Why is the sky blue” and “What is DNA?”)
The show began streaming on Netflix in 2016 and has won several TV Emmy Awards in the children’s category.
The brothers could have remained independent, but the world has changed, says Gregg Spiridellis, in an interview for the #TalkingTech podcast. “The world we live in now is a world of massive distributors,” he says. “So by partnering with Netflix, we’ll be a priority in the kids space in 190 countries, and we could see StoryBots be the modern equivalent of a global Sesame Street.”
The brothers will stay on as producers in the Netflix family, overseeing StoryBots.
Listen to our interview with Gregg Spiridellis on #TalkingTech by clicking the link below to listen.
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