The creators behind the animated satire show South Park have raised $20 million for their deepfake and artificial intelligence studio, Deep Voodoo, per Variety.
It represents the group’s first outside funding, the outlet noted — the company was previously funneling capital from the entertainment company Park County, owned by the animated show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
South Park, the adult animated comedy series, has been running since 1997 and just finished its 25th season. The show has been renewed for projects that take it through to 2027. The creators said in 1998 they were in the business of making people go, “‘What the f[—] is this?'”
In 2020, Stone and Parker began work on what they hoped would be a full-length film related to deepfakes. But once the pandemic hit, the project turned into the much shorter — but very viral — satire video called “Sassy Justice with Fred Sassy,” which joked about figures including Mark Zuckerberg and then-President Donald Trump.
But it’s an expensive business. The 15-minute video cost the pair “millions” (including the initial investment that didn’t pan out because of the pandemic) and was “probably the single most expensive YouTube video ever made,” Parker told the outlet.
Still, the duo decided to continue their deepfake work after the YouTube video. Now, the company has raised a $20 million round, led by Connect Ventures, a collaboration between talent and media agency CAA and a venture capital firm, New Enterprise Associates (NEA).
“Connect Ventures is thrilled to lead the investment in Deep Voodoo, providing unique access to CAA and NEA’s resources and relationships,” said Michael Blank, leader of consumer investments at CAA, in a statement Tuesday.
Deepfakes are videos that imitate the appearance or face of another, and the technology has alarmed misinformation experts. The term appears to have been coined on Reddit.
“Deepfakes still might be poised to corrupt the basic ways we process reality—or what’s left of it,” The Atlantic wrote Tuesday.
Stone, meanwhile, said he hopes the technology will support artists.
“We stumbled upon this amazing technology and ended up recruiting the best deepfake artists in the world,” Stone said. “We are psyched to share their brilliance with the Hollywood creative community.”