clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The duo behind Smosh, one of YouTube’s biggest acts, is breaking up

Anthony Padilla heads out on his own.

The 6th Annual Streamy Awards Hosted By King Bach And Live Streamed On YouTube - Inside
Smosh’s Anthony Padilla (left) is leaving; partner Ian Hecox will keep making videos for the comedy brand.
Mike Windle/Getty Images for dick clark productions
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Big news in YouTubeland today: Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, better known to their fans as Ian and Anthony from Smosh, are breaking up.

More specifically, Padilla is leaving Smosh and the bro-tastic comedy video brand the two men have built up, and is going on to do his own, kind-of-unspecified-for-now, thing. Hecox will keep working on Smosh, which has been around so long it predates YouTube.

Smosh and its various spin-off brands now boast 40 million subscribers on YouTube and have generated 11 billion YouTube views over more than a decade.

If you’re not a fan — and if you’re not a teen or pre-teen, you probably are not — here’s some vintage Smosh from 2013:

Padilla announced the move via a (YouTube, of course) video today. The news comes a week before the start of Vidcon, the web video fan + industry convention in Anaheim, California.

Defy Media, the web video company that owns Smosh, says everything’s great, and that they wish Padilla well, and they’ll link to his personal YouTube channel, where he’ll be creating his own stuff for his 1.3 million subscribers.

And Padilla and Hecox also provided two (very formal, not 100 percent sure it’s their voices) statements praising each other. You can read those at the bottom of this post.

The reason you’re reading about this on a site that covers the business of digital media is that Smosh is a huge part of Defy Media’s business, so its continued success is crucial to the company. Last year, Defy raised a $70 million round.

On the one hand, Padilla, Hecox and their managers at Defy have been planning on this for a long time, by trying to build Smosh into a brand that doesn’t depend on their on-screen presence to work. On the other hand, Smosh hasn’t created any other stars with their singular appeal.

Also of note: Barry Blumberg, the former Disney television executive that helped transform Padilla and Hecox from a novelty act into a business, left Defy a few months ago. Defy says the two moves are unrelated.

Bigger questions for YouTube and the web video world in general: How long, exactly, can a digital native video star remain relevant/popular/lucrative? And what does a career trajectory look like for them? Like other YouTube stars, Padilla and Hecox have played around with movies and other non-YouTube platforms. But like other YouTube stars, they seem most relevant on YouTube.

Here are those statements:

IAN: Anthony and I have been friends for 19 years, and creative partners for the past 11 of those years. Throughout that time, we’ve built a comedy brand we’re so proud of and, side by side, developed content we loved – SMOSH wouldn’t be what it is today without his contributions. As Anthony moves on to pursue new creative endeavors, myself and everyone at SMOSH are excited to see what he does next. I'm really looking forward to taking SMOSH to the next phase, and we can't wait for people to see what we have coming up.

ANTHONY: "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. As I begin this adventure, I am excited to return to a feeling that I felt many years ago; a rush of adrenaline following a new and exciting idea. Creating as an individual is a passion that I have wanted to explore for a long time. To all those that have followed Ian and I throughout the years, I will always be so grateful for the continued love and support. As scary as this is, I am excited because I know that no matter what happens, I am following what's true to me and what I'm passionate about. I hope to see you all on my journey."

This article originally appeared on