The JibJab Blog

Stick Your Face In It!


Back in ancient times, 1998 to be exact, two brothers bore witness to an animated dancing doodie streaming over a 56K modem and it changed their lives forever. What Evan and Gregg Spiridellis saw in their browser was more than a dancing piece of dung; it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be pioneers in a brave new world of entertainment.

At the time, Gregg was an MBA student at the Wharton School of Business, recovering from four years of investment banking, and Evan was an accomplished independent animator creating festival-winning stop motion films. The idea that production costs were dropping and distribution was opening up, coupled with their complete lack of media industry experience, led the brothers to believe that they could create a giant, new entertainment brand.

In 1999, the Evan and Gregg scraped together a few thousand dollars and started JibJab in a Brooklyn garage (despite the fact that starting an Internet company in a garage is really a cliché thing to do).

Gregg and Evan in the Brooklyn office, which also doubled as Gregg’s apartment

At the beginning, they supported their business producing high quality eCards for other websites. Then, in February 2000, they created their first viral video hit with an interactive video of the Founding Fathers rapping about the Declaration of Independence. They quickly followed it with an even bigger hit featuring George Bush and Al Gore in a rap battle for the 2000 presidential election. The video was one of the web’s first broad based hits and landed on Fox’s MadTV, ABC News, CNN and a host of other national media outlets.

The brothers were on the verge of success. Then came the dot-com crash…


Within six months, all of JibJab’s clients went out of business. The brothers scrambled to find creative ways to make enough money to keep their new business afloat. They created a line of gag gifts based on their popular online series “Nasty Santa” and sold it nationwide through Spencer Gifts and Urban Outfitters. They also created animations for companies like Disney, Noggin and Kraft. They even published a children’s book with rap super star LL Cool J!

By the end of 2001, it was clear that online entertainment was not coming back anytime soon. Evan and Gregg realized that in order for JibJab to survive, they would need to close down their Brooklyn shop, say goodbye to family and friends, and set out in search of greener pastures.

In January 2002, they committed their second start-up cliché, packing all of their earthly possessions into a 24-foot U-Haul truck and hitting the road for sunny Los Angeles. Long gone were the dreams of a media revolution; now all they wanted was to figure out a way to earn a living making people laugh.

For their first two years in Los Angeles, the brothers toiled in obscurity. Despite the anonymity, it was a productive time. They published a best-selling holiday book for Disney called “Are You Grumpy Santa”. They produced a series of viral animations for Sony. They created the Bananagrabber character for the hit TV series “Arrested Development”. They created a political parody called “Ahnold for Governor” that landed them a coveted spot at the Sundance Online Film Festival.

Most importantly, they continued to pour everything back into original short programming for because they believed that building an audience by serving great content would ultimately lead to big opportunities.


In 2004, the brothers turned their attention to the Bush/Kerry political battle, hoping to replicate their success from the 2000 campaign. Nothing in the four and half year history of their company could have prepared them for what happened next…

On July 9, 2004, Evan and Gregg Spiridellis released “THIS LAND” and the media revolution they first dreamed of back in Brooklyn was at their doorstep overnight. The video, animated by Evan and written by Gregg, rocketed around the world from inbox to inbox after the brothers emailed a link to the 130,000 people on their fan newsletter. Within days, millions of requests poured in from around the world for their satirical video. As they told Brian Wilson in their first national interview on FOX News, their tiny little web server “spontaneously combusted”.

The string of media attention that followed was unprecedented for an Internet video. The Today Show, ABC News, Jay Leno, CNN, FOX, CNBC, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Variety, Los Angeles Times and hundreds of other media outlets from around the world covered the story.

By the end of the election, JibJab’s election videos were more than 80 million times online on every continent, including Antarctica. American soldiers had emailed the brothers to tell them they were watching the video from within Saddam Hussein’s old palace. NASA had even contacted the brothers for permission to send a copy of the animation to the International Space Station. Then, on December 31, 2004, Peter Jennings named the Spiridellis brothers “People of the Year” on ABC’s World News.


While most LA-based creators would have jumped at the opportunity to shift to traditional media, Evan and Gregg shunned the television and film offers pouring in and doubled-down on new media. They went to work leveraging the phenomenal success from the election to start rebuilding their business.

They kicked off 2005 creating a series of movie trailers that played before every film at the Sundance Film Festival. They did deals with Yahoo!, AtomFilms, MSN Video, and Anheuser Busch. During the course of the year, they released three more videos on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno including Second Term, Matzah and 2-0-5.

By 2006, things were moving faster in the online video business than ever before. The brothers had powered JibJab with six and a half years of sweat equity but they knew that if they wanted to realize their vision to build JibJab into a great company, they needed financing that would enable them to hire great people and build for the future. In March 2006, they met Jon Flint from Polaris Venture Partners and a great partnership was born.

After six and a half years of living on the edge of bankruptcy, the brothers cautiously set about deploying their new capital to expand their efforts. They launched a community joke-sharing website called JokeBox. They produced a series of sketch comedy shorts with legendary comedy director John Landis (Blues Brothers, Animal House, Trading Places and more). They produced a video with Weird Al Yankovic. They even premiered premiered a video, What We Call the News, for the President of the United States at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner in Washington, DC.

The only thing they hadn’t done was figure out a scalable business model that would enable them to produce and distribute online comedy – and pay the bills.


The brothers knew that the nature of the web was becoming more social. They wondered if there was an opportunity to take their skills producing satirical content and apply them to the creation of videos that could be used for personal expression on burgeoning social networks like MySpace. While researching the market, they discovered that American Greetings had a $80 million a year eCard business with 4 million paying subscribers. Booya!

In 2007, the brothers set their sites on innovating the ecard category. Their vision was to keep producing the high quality, fun content that made JibJab famous, but to couple it with personalization tools that empower people to express themselves in fun ways.

In August 2007, they released ‘Starring You®’, which let people put themselves into JibJab videos and images. From the day it was released, the product was a runaway hit that would eventually dwarf the size of the audience they attracted for their political satires. As of June 2010, people have uploaded over 150 million heads to the Starring You platform and viewed personalized videos and images over 400 million times.

Along with these new product lines came a new way of doing business. Rather than relying on advertisers to pay the bills (and clutter up the JibJab website with crappy banner ads) the brothers decided to continue offering a sizable selection of free content, but to make the vast majority of eCards and certain Starring You content exclusive to paid Members.

There were three reasons for this shift. First, by building a Membership model they could focus on making content their customers wanted (as opposed to what advertisers wanted). Second, by removing banner ads from the site they could offer their customers the highest quality experience. Third, they could afford to pay the artists, technologists and business people who make JibJab possible.

Luckily for the brothers – and the folks who count on JibJab for a living – customers have responded, transacting over a million times, and setting the company on a path to commercial success.


Since their days in a Brooklyn garage, Evan and Gregg grew JibJab into a nationally recognized brand by being obsessed about the quality of the programming and products they produced. Today they are joined on their mission to make things that make people laugh by an exceptional team of 37 artists, technologists and business people working hard (really hard) to surprise and delight audiences around the world with exceptional online entertainment.

And they’ll never forget that it all started with a dancing doodie.

The JibJab team in Venice, CA

40 responses to “History”

  1. Kudos to JibJab team,

    We love your site, love what you guys done, in particular the “Starring You” section. We really have a blast and hopefully you guys would add more video stuff there. Amazing.

    Keep up the good work,

    Nel Sea your newly member.

  2. I’m sending a small donation to your Santa Monica address.It
    certainly won’t let you two retire,but will show in a small way
    how much I appreciate your site.Whenever I feel down I go to
    Jib Jab to get a new lease on life.Thank you,Evan and Gregg and
    the rest of the gang.
    Best regards—-Sig Orstad

  3. Awesome to hear you were an illustration major! I too majored in that field out here in New York. You guys are great, I absolutely love what you to here. Flawless animation with some great wit. Keep it up!

  4. We lead! We lead! We Lead!
    We are your leaders!
    And, we need your vote!
    Vote for us! We are your leaders!
    We want to lead! We want to lead you!
    And in order to lead, we need to look good.
    We need to look good for you!
    And to look good, we need your money.
    We need your money to spend to make us look good
    for all the things we can do for you.
    When it comes to love, hate and indifference,
    we’re the masters of deception, without exception. You’ll see!
    Just vote for us! Vote for us!
    Why? Because it’s the right thing to do
    We’ll champion any cause that will benefit us,
    and you, to get your vote.
    We’re running cause we’re in a hurry to get there,
    and we’re always behind.
    And, when we get there,
    you’ll see, we just don’t have the time.
    But, we’ll make time for a cause, any cause,
    if you have some money.
    We need money, lots of money to make us look good
    We’re very good listeners, selective listeners.
    We listen only to what we want to hear from you.
    So, you’ll learn quickly to keep it buttoned up
    and not waste our precious time.
    Step to the end of the line!
    The worse thing you can do
    is think of us as hypocrites.
    That’s not our goal! We love you!
    We are your leaders! We want to lead!
    And in order to lead, we need to look good.
    We need to look good for you.
    And to look good, we need your money.
    We need your money to spend to make us look good
    for all the things we can do for you.
    Hard money, soft money, any kind of money,
    even your lunch money, we accept all donations.
    You can even use your credit card!
    And when we are elected to a position of trust,
    we guarantee we will tax you for everything – everything!
    Everything you can imagine!
    If it doesn’t make sense, that’s good!
    It’s not legal coercion or legislating morality
    You need noise cops, smoking ban cops, kissing cops
    lawn cops, fireplace cops, truancy cops, even bubble
    gum cops. Why? WWHHYYYY?
    We love you, we need to take care of you!
    Don’t you know that?
    Now, do we need ask why cops?
    We’ll use you and confuse you about the issues
    you certainly know nothing about you “dummies.”
    We believe in fees, fines, licenses, tariffs, permits,
    tolls, gratuities, and TAXES!
    BOY!!! DO WE LOVE TAXES!!!!!
    TAX, Tax, TaX, tAX, tAx, taX,
    We’ll tax you anyway we can.
    WE LOVE TAXES!!!!!!!!!!
    BOY!!!!! DO WE LOVE TAXES!!!!!
    We’ll regulate your life and you’ll see
    you just need us. Vote for us! Vote for us!
    Think about how much you really need us
    to do nothing to interfere with your lives,
    and how much more you’ll need us to do
    something about nothing to confuse you.
    Confusion is illusion you liberal ass!
    And conservatism is enlightened servitude
    when you have more than enough to give.
    Aren’t you glad to be an American?
    You just might get what you want,
    but it’s still going to cost you.
    We are your leaders! We want to lead!
    And in order to lead, we need to look good.
    We need to look good for you.
    And to look good, we need your money.
    We need your money to spend to make us look good
    for all the things we can do for you.

    • I’m Very Upset that all the oringal videos know are gone! What the heck. I always showed my friends that all these videos were funny as heck, like the farting 12 elves. I want the orginal videos back or be able to buy all them one a dvd. Please do something because I know im not the only one! I probably will stop coming on this site, same with my friends because they all like the old stuff.


  6. I am disappointed in the shut down of jokebox and the loss of the internet friends I have made. I hope that you will one day be able to bring back some version of it. I guess copyright law as much manpower to keep up with it as well as bandwith had a lot to do with it ending. As I recall we were to be limited to 1,000 entries and of course we were way over that. I wish Jib Jab well. Having the joke sharing when I joined helped me through some rough times personally though laughter.
    Peace: Vic Satter (vsatter1)

  7. I really miss the jokebox. it is a terrible shame that it left over night. I wish the best for jib jab and maybe i’ll see jokebox in the furture. good bye to all and to all a good night

  8. Yes, the internet may be location agnostic, but Calif* is where businesses have to physically be to gain popularity.

  9. The closure of jokebox is a real shame. A lot of people created a lot of ORIGINAL jokes that were incredibly popular. Their talent was never acknowledged and I am sure that JIBJAB management made money from advertising (if not then something was intrinsically wrong). Creativity is not limited to making photo images that move to mediocre satirical music.
    It can be as simple as a stick figure talking or as matching a series of images with amusing/contrasting music that gives the content a new comical life. I fear that JibJab may realise this a bit too late.

  10. You guys had a great thing going! I was a huge fan, and even purchased a couple of your DVD’s a few years back. Then, you changed your format about a year ago, and everything has gone down hill! No sooner had you cashed my $10 check for “credits”, than you went to a “subscription” arrangement, nixed the JokeBox, made the original Staring You videos unavailable, and LOST all my heads that I had painstakenly produced over many months! I had recommended you to friends and family who have the same complaints as I, and who no longer visit your site. My emails are answered with letters saying, basically, “Sorry we lost your heads. Just make new ones”. Easier said than done. I no longer have the photos I created the heads from. Your site does not even give a simple link to “Creating Heads”. Spiridelli Brothers, you need to put down the bong for a minute and concentrate again on the CUSTOMER SERVICE aspect of your business, Dudes!

    • Hi Pat,

      Since you took the time to explain your issues to us, we wanted to take the time to address each of your points:

      SUBSCRIPTIONS – The move to subscriptions was based upon feedback we received from customers, and was done to add value for you. The subscription model gives you unlimited sends for one price as opposed to only being able to send, for example, 3 videos for $10. All people who had purchased credits were given a free subscription, including you; it looks like your subscription is good until January of 2010. It sounds like we didn’t communicate this well to you, and we’re sorry for that.

      JOKEBOX – No one was sadder to see JokeBox go then us. We poured a lot of time, energy and money into it but it became clear we couldn’t financially support it and we had to make the tough decision to let it go. We sent several emails to users to let them know about the change, but maybe we didn’t do that good a job; our apologies.

      LOSS OF STARRING YOU VIDEOS & HEADS – Yes, we screwed up BIG TIME! We are not looking to make excuses but rather explain where we are at: Our technology team is made up of only about a dozen really talented and really hard-working people. They are trying to do the work of what 50-100 people would be doing at a larger company. Building and managing the Starring You database of videos and heads is really complicated business. We have tens of millions of videos and heads cut and stored by our audience and as hard as we try to get it right we definitely still make mistakes. I’m really sorry about your lost videos and heads and if there was a way to get them back, believe me, we would. Regardless of what you may think, we still realize we are nothing without our audience and we strive to keep people happy, but we are far from perfect (as you unfortunately now know).

      CREATING HEADS – All that you need to do to create a head is first choose a Starring you video or picture to personalize. However, we know that this confuses people a little, so we already have it on our roadmap to give folks the ability to create heads directly. Thanks for the suggestion.

      In summary, we’re really sorry you’ve been disappointed with our service. We really do value our audience and especially people who have been supportive for as long as you have. We’re *always* working hard to *always* improve the site, so we hope that you we can win you back as a big fan sometime soon.

      Thanks again for taking the time to give us some feedback,

      The JibJab Team

  11. A big THANK YOU!! for FINALLY taking the time to personally email me a “letter of apology” for my above issues with your site and for admitting that you did, in fact, “screw up BIG TIME” when you changed your format and lost all your customer’s heads and videos. That’s all I wanted. Acknowlegement of my frustrations, admission of “screwing up” and a sincere apology. So, although it took a year of my complaints and replies like, “Sorry we lost all your heads. We are working on getting them back”, you can now consider yourselves back in my good graces. My only complaint now is that I’ve been waiting almost a year to “get my heads back”. Now I know that they are lost forever in head-heaven, and I must create new ones, but during that year, I was unable to use my subscription to send Starring You videos because I had no heads. (I think it would be nice if you extended my subscription to December 2010). Thank you again for your personal and sincere reply to my complaints.

  12. where have you put “geezers”???? I miss those two guys a lot!! Please put them back. Mark

    • So glad to hear you liked Geezers, Mark. While we have no immediate plans to place them back on the site right now, there’s really no way to contain ornery folks like them forever, so perhaps you will see them again one day.

      • Oh man, yea please put Geezers back. They used to be one of my favorite things about JibJab. Why why why did you take them down??

  13. OK I am wondering if you ever got a way for us to SAVE our “STARRING YOU” sendables?????
    I lost the ones I made so long ago- I want to know what I have to do to make a “STARRING YOU” and save it to my PC.
    Thank you soooooooo MUCH!

  14. I love you guys and your site is fabulous! I will be a member until I die hopfully from laughing! Two things I would like to touch on….possible head shapes for dogs! (and cats too I suppose if you like that sort of thing). I know there is a lot of people who think that their pets are way more funny than most people. My dog was perfect for “Math Camp”.
    Second thing is the “Fredmiester”…….Yum!!! He is OMG adorable and I was wondering if he was single? Hey it doesn’t hurt to ask right?

  15. Dear;
    ….. Realy strange…Hum Hum ! Cooking ????

    Kindy Kindy;
    Jean Pierre*

  16. Gang, I’m trying to pay my membership and can NO WAY to get accounts dept. hooked up. Please fill me in on proper way to get hooked back up. I tried regular email but obviously didn’t get the right e-addresses. Thanks, love your work,

    Karl Sadler

  17. I am a “baby boomer”…and I have fell in love with JibJab. I have, my whole life, liked things a little “off the wall” and was happy to find your site. You make me smile. thanx Jib Jab

    P.S. I tell all of my friends and family about your site.

%d bloggers like this: