Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Kara Visits JibJab

I have always been intrigued by what it takes to finally create hit content on the Web.

So far, in truth, there has not been much to speak of.


One of the only really interesting phenoms I can think of–setting aside the Mentos-and-Coke thing–are the cartoon satires of JibJab Media, such as “This Land.” It was a major viral hit online and garnered huge attention outside the Web as well. (And you can see it again below too.)

But even that, as entertaining as it is, was no long-term success, nor did it generate the kind of money a big Hollywood blockbuster can, often no matter the quality.

So it was nice to have this video tour and discussion with JibJab co-founder Gregg Spiridellis at the company’s Venice, Calif., offices about the market for entertainment online, which still has not been figured out.

JibJab is trying to do that in a location that puts them smack in the middle of the entertainment industry, although its methods are decidedly different.

For example, today it launches its new Sendables product, aimed at the $85 million online greeting-card business dominated by American Greetings and also cheesy “social expression” products (think animated smiley faces) that actually garner substantial revenue.

(Its other recent product is called Starring You! Using relatively easy tools, people can cut their their heads into premade JibJab movies, with more than one million heads now created.)

The Spiridellis have higher hopes for Sendables–there will be 200 high-quality cards for sale for from 50 cents to $3 at its launch for all sorts of occasions–seeing it as JibJab’s efforts to upgrade the programming in the sector.

Gregg and his brother Evan (they started the company together in 1999) call today’s e-cards “lame.”

To try to eat into that market with class, the company recently closed a Series B funding with Polaris Venture Partners.

Here’s Gregg Spiridellis and I talking about the state of entertainment on the Web:

And here’s JibJab’s “This Land.”

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik