FORTUNE -- "Why would you get the guy who created the Zune to make your website?"
That was one of several questions posted by comedic actor Zach Galifianakis to President Obama, who made a surprise appearance on Funny Or Die's Between Two Ferns program to plug the Affordable Care Act. Not only did the video immediately go viral, but it also has become the day's top referrer to Healthcare.gov. Or, put another way, whoever in the White House press office approved this "interview" is breathing a giant sigh of relief.
The video's popularity also is a big shot in the arm for Funny Or Die, which was launched in 2008 by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and a Hollywood production company whose principals include Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. The lead investor for Sequoia was partner Mark Kvamme, who has since left Sequoia but remains chairman of the Funny Or Die board. I spent a few minutes on the phone with Kvamme earlier today, talking about Funny Or Die. An edited transcript is below:
FORTUNE: It's been nearly seven years since Sequoia first invested in Funny Or Die. How does it eventually exit?
MARK KVAMME: A lot of Silicon Valley guys don't understand the value of content. Take Between Two Ferns. We've probably shot between 16 and 18 episodes, and people keep watching episodes we filmed a couple of years ago. In fact, around 50% of our traffic is for content we own and invested in a long, long time ago. It's kind of like a studio model with a back catalog, where the content value continues to increase.
It's going to turn out to be a very good investment for Sequoia... Not a WhatsApp sort of multi-billion dollar exit, but a nice multi-hundred million dollar exit sometime.
Most likely to an established entertainment company?
It's pretty rare for VC firms to back professionally-produced content companies, and when they do it's almost always some form of journalism. Why has this one worked?
FunnyOrDie was started with this question about what would happen if Hollywood and Silicon Valley worked together from the very beginning. So all of the content is created in Hollywood, but around half of the company's employees are actually in Silicon Valley. And these guys use social media in a way that only a tech company uses social media -- not in the way a traditional entertainment company uses social media.
Any concerns that the Obama appearance makes Funny Or Die look partisan?
No. When he goes on The Tonight Show, does that make NBC look partisan? He had something to market. Kind of like when Charlize Theron did Between Two Ferns, because she had a movie coming out. If someone like John Boehner wants to do a piece, he'd be welcomed. And one thing that's important is that people know they'll be presented well. This isn't College Humor.
Funny Or Die hasn't raised venture funding since 2008. Does that mean is cash-flow positive?
Yes, it is very profitable. From an investment perspective, you're right that it has raised VC since 2008. But two years ago it did sell sell a minority stake to Turner Broadcasting.
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Sequoia Capital may have been the only VC firm in WhatsApp, but that wasn't for lack of other interest.
FORTUNE -- Oh, what could have been.
When Facebook (FB) last month agreed to buy mobile messaging company WhatsApp for approximately $19 billion, many of us noted how the deal helped solidify Sequoia Capital as the world's top venture capital firm. Not only was this the largest sale ever of a VC-backed company, MOREDan Primack - Mar 5, 2014 2:46 PM ET
Facebook is buying WhatsApp for $19 billion. But that's not the only important number.
FORTUNE -- Like many of you, I'm still having a hard time processing Facebook's decision to pay around $19 billion for a four year-old messaging company. In the meantime, some numbers that weren't in the press release:
That's the amount Facebook (FB) actually is paying for WhatsApp, based on today's closing stock price of $68.06 per share. MOREDan Primack - Feb 19, 2014 8:01 PM ET
VC firm Sequoia Capital has added two junior partners to its growth equity practice.
FORTUNE -- Sequoia Capital has quietly hired a pair of junior partners for its growth equity practice, Fortune has learned.
The first is Andrew Reed, who previously was a San Francisco-based tech banker with Goldman Sachs (GS). His work at Goldman included last year's IPO for RingCentral (RNG), which was a Sequoia portfolio company. Also worth noting MOREDan Primack - Feb 19, 2014 11:26 AM ET
Sand Hill Rd. stalwart is raising three new funds.
FORTUNE -- Sequoia Capital is in the midst of raising three new venture capital funds, Fortune has learned. The total amount raised is expected to top $2 billion.
The new funds are:Sequoia's sixth U.S. growth equity fund, which is expected to raise between $900 million and $1 billion. The firm's fifth U.S. growth equity fund closed in 2011 on $950 million. Sequoia Sequoia's next MORE Dan Primack - Jan 21, 2014 12:40 PM ET
Silicon Valley VC firm closes three new funds.
FORTUNE -- Sequoia Capital, the venture capital firm known for its early investments in companies like Google (GOOG) and LinkedIn (LNKD), has raised nearly $1.1 billion for new funds that will back start-ups in the U.S., China and Israel.
Here's the breakdown, based on SEC filings disclosed today:
Sequoia Capital XIV (U.S.-focused): $475 million
Sequoia Capital China: $370 million
Sequoia Capital Israel V: $227 million
Sequoia also manages MOREDan Primack - Aug 15, 2013 1:18 PM ET
Sequoia Capital's Doug Leone expands on eyebrow-raising comments made at MIT.
FORTUNE -- Sequoia Capital partner Doug Leone made waves over the weekend, by saying at an MIT conference that "big is the enemy of great" when it comes to venture capital firms. So I rang up Leone, to get a better understanding of what he meant.
For starters, Leone explained that he was only referring to the investment side of things. In MOREDan Primack - Dec 12, 2012 11:25 AM ET
VC firm Sequoia staffs up in Israel.
FORTUNE -- Peer39 founder Amiad Solomon has joined Sequoia Capital as an Israel-based venture partner, Fortune has learned.
In an email to friends and colleagues, Solomon wrote:
It's been 7 years now since we started Peer39, created a new category of 'semantic advertising' and managed to make a small dent in the ad-tech landscape. Since then I've went on and co-founded three new Internet ventures with MOREDan Primack - Sep 19, 2012 4:35 PM ET
Venture firm seeks at least $1 billion.
FORTUNE -- Sequoia Capital, the venture capital firm behind such companies as Google (GOOG) and and Yahoo (YHOO), is back in the fund-raising market, with a series of vehicles designed to raise at least $1 billion (in aggregate).
My understanding is that one fund will focus on traditional venture capital, another on growth equity and another on China. It's also possible that there's a fourth fund being MOREDan Primack - May 29, 2012 10:29 AM ET
Leading venture capitalist has "rare medical condition."
FORTUNE -- Michael Moritz, the legendary venture capitalist behind such investments as Google (GOOG), Yahoo (YHOO) and Zappos, is stepping down from day-to-day management of Sequoia Capital due to a medical condition.
In an email sent to Sequoia investors, Moritz said that he has been "diagnosed with a rare medical condition which can be managed but is incurable," adding that he feels good right now MOREDan Primack - May 21, 2012 10:55 AM ET
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