“Fun, not funny.”
By now, you’ve likely enjoyed the great work of Jomboy. We regularly post breakdown videos from its founder, Jimmy O’Brien (sadly, no relation to TOB). The most famous one – the video that is credited for turning something O’Brien did in his spare time while working as a wedding videographer to a company with 64 employees and a latest funding round of $5M – was the Astros cheating scandal. You know, the garbage bins.
O’Brien’s unique skillset is on full display in the video. He wasn’t breaking news – The Athletic had the story before Jomboy…and Jmboy isn’t a sports news website anyway…it still doesn’t even have a website! – but he walked the viewer through it so they could see it with their own eyes instead of imagining the cheating while reading along. In the video, O’Brien is funny and extremely insightful, but he never even has a whiff of that self-aggrandizement that seems so common in sports talk tv and radio (the hot take).
It’s the tone that has come to define the company. In his own words, “Fun, not funny.”
Per Zach Schonbrun:
O’Brien says, “The easiest way to get laughs sometimes is to knock other people down or go negative. That isn’t really our vibe.”
This can be construed as an attempt at virtuousness, but he insists it is nothing out of character for them. He and Storiale just generally don’t like confrontation.
“We’ve both been diagnosed as conflict averse because we have older sisters who fought their moms,” O’Brien joked. “We were the peacemakers.”
It’s also likely a big reason why Jomboy has been welcomed by MLB. Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Haap hosts a weekly podcast for Jomboy, and the company recently signed a partnership with the YES Network to produce content and simulcast shows.
As Schonbrun’s story lays out, “Fun, not funny” is also a pretty savvy place to plant a flag in this current landscape of sport content.
Joe Favorito, a sports industry analyst and lecturer in Columbia University’s sports management program, contrasted Jomboy’s goofier, more inviting approach to the path forged by Barstool Sports, the insurgent media group now worth more than half a billion dollars.
“They’re the less edgy premise of what Barstool is overall,” Favorito said. “They’ve taken that unique, irreverent position while also being respectful of baseball — with some really good insight.”
Jomboy’s escape from the toxicity and polarization on social media is what attracted some big-name investors, including Alexis Ohanian of Reddit and Seven Seven Six, who joined in its latest funding round.
“The pendulum has swung back,” Ohanian wrote in an email. “People crave the good vibes.”
TOB and I started this hobby of 1-2-3 while sitting at a bar on the corner of Geary and Masonic in San Francisco, and it sounds like Jomboy was started in the same spirit of a regular dude who just loves sports. It’s really cool to see Jomboy take off like it has. O’Brien had a clear niche, he executes it perfectly, and I love it. – PAL
Source: “A Sports Media Empire Runs on ‘Good Vibes Only’”, Zach Schonbrun, The New York Times (09/14/22)
R.I.P. Jonathan Tjarks
Tjarks, a basketball writer for The Ringer, died this week after a long battle with cancer. I was not a big follower of his work, but I wanted to re-post a story he wrote after learning the first round of chemotherapy didn’t take, and his mindset shifted. It’s an incredible, beautiful piece of writing.
I have already told some of my friends: When I see you in heaven, there’s only one thing I’m going to ask—Were you good to my son and my wife? Were you there for them? Does my son know you?
Read it. – PAL
Source: “Does My Son Know You?” Jonathan Tjarks, The Ringer (03.10.22)
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