Netflix announced that it acquired StoryBots, the children’s media brand created by brothers Gregg and Evan Spiridellis, the founders of JibJab Media. In addition, the Spiridellis have entered into an overall deal with Netflix to expand the preschool entertainment and educational franchise into new areas.
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. The price tag is “immaterial” to Netflix, CNBC reportedciting an anonymous source.
It’s only the third acquisition in Netflix’s history: The streamer bought Millarworld, the comic-book publishing firm founded by Mark Millar, in 2017, and last year paid less than $30 million for ABQ Studios, a TV and film production facility in Albuquerque, N.M.
Netflix in 2016 launched the animated series “Ask the StoryBots,” which uses multiple formats — including 3D, 2D, claymation, stop motion and live action — to answer classic children’s questions like “Why is the sky blue?” Guest stars in the series have included Snoop Dogg, Edward Norton, Whoopi Goldberg and Wanda Sykes. Netflix also has one season of “StoryBots Super Songs” on the service. Season 3 of “Ask the StoryBots” is slated to launch this fall on Netflix.
Under the new deal, Netflix and the Spiridellis brothers will produce more StoryBots original programming, including series and short-form specials, and also plan to expand into new areas. Netflix called it a “first-of-its-kind acquisition” for the company, signaling its “commitment to educational programming for preschoolers.”
“‘Ask the StoryBots’ has a proven track record of synthesizing complex subjects into bite-sized lessons that are funny and entertaining for young kids and satisfying for parents,” Netflix VP of original animation Melissa Cobb said in announcing the deal. “We are thrilled to welcome Gregg and Evan into the Netflix family and look forward to building out the wonderful and whimsical StoryBots world, finding new ways to delight our growing member base of families around the world.”
The Spiridellis brothers founded JibJab Media in Brooklyn in 1999, scoring success with political satires, digital greeting cards and other viral content — including popular personalized yuletide greeting site ElfYourself (now owned by Office Depot). In 2012, they launched StoryBots online, and to date the brand’s learning music videos have been viewed online more than 1 billion times.
In a statement, Evan and Gregg Spiridellis commented, “Together with Netflix, our goal is to make StoryBots the leading educational entertainment brand for connected kids and families globally. We see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring something epically good into the world.”
Now based in L.A., JibJab was acquired by private-equity firm Catapult Capital in February 2019 for an undisclosed sum. Following the sale, the Spiridellis brothers are no longer involved in JibJab, according to a company rep. Previously, JibJab had raised $17.9 million from investors including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment, Polaris Capital and St. Cloud Capital, according to Crunchbase.