Polaris Antes Up for JibJab’s Third Round

When I got an “ElfYourself” e-greeting from my brother’s family before Christmas 2007, I remember being surprised that the free greeting, though sponsored by OfficeMax, was actually powered by JibJab, the Venice, CA, Web startup that made its name during the 2004 presidential campaign with its irreverent “This Land” video.” The switch from animated parodies to e-cards seemed pretty drastic—yet that’s exactly how Waltham’s Polaris Venture Partners and other investors think the company can make money.

JibJab announced today that it has closed a $7.5 million Series C round, led by Overbrook Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment with Polaris along as a participant. (Polaris was also in on the company’s $6.4 million A round in June 2006 and its $3 million B round in October 2007.) The company says it will use the money to continue its self-declared “war on eCards” with JibJab Sendables, a library of over 1,200 humorous, personalizable electronic greetings like ElfYourself. Most Sendables are free, but some JibJab content is available only to subscribers, who pay $16 a year.

Jon Flint, managing general partner at Polaris, said in a statement that “With its stellar brand, unparalleled track record for creating hits, proven ability to monetize and 6 million strong registered member base, we think JibJab is in an enviable position to reinvent the $8 billion greeting card industry.”

Interestingly, Silicon Alley Insider included Polaris on its recent list of the 20 U.S. venture firms most exposed to risky Web 2.0 investments, partly because of its (now growing) stake in JibJab. But after Bob wrote about the Insider’s list this morning, Flint wrote us a note arguing that, by the Insider’s own definition, JibJab doesn’t count as a Web 2.0 company. “JibJab does not have an advertiser supported business model.  It is an eCommerce company selling electronic greeting cards like ‘ElfYourself’…a recession resistant business,” Flint said.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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