The two founders of Smosh are breaking up.
The YouTube comedy channel was launched nearly 12 years ago by buddies Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox. Now, Padilla is leaving to pursue other projects.
Hecox is sticking with Smosh, which has added more channels and cast members over the years.
Going forward, Smosh presents and interesting test case for the web video world, and specifically whether a platform like YouTube — which is so often centered on singular personalities — can foster brands that outlive their creators.
In other words, is Smosh still Smosh without Padilla?
Since launching in 2005, Smosh has amassed over 22.7 million YouTube subscribers while generating upwards of 6 billion views. Defy Media, which manages the Smosh channel and its sister channels, has been preparing for this day for a while, said president Keith Richman.
He likened Padilla’s departure to cast members leaving “Saturday Night Live.”
“About four years ago, we came together as a company and said, ‘what are steps we need to take to make the brand live way beyond the people that founded it?” Richman said.
Besides adding new shows and talent, Padilla and Hecox have increasingly taken on behind the scenes roles on projects, for example.
“The goal is to be able to have a brand that is permanent and long lasting,” said Richman. “Most people haven’t’ been able to do this.”
Indeed, there haven’t been a ton of examples of YouTube productions outliving their founders. The demands of the video blogging format can lead to burnout. And many stars are hard to replace. For instance, when the YouTube star Phil DeFranco decided to leave his channel, the channel was eventually shut down.
In the case of Smosh, the parting appears amicable.
“I’m so sad to see this chapter of my life coming to a close, but I will continue to support Ian and wish nothing but the best for him and the brand we created together.” said Padilla in a statement. He didn’t say what he’ll be doing next.