Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

I Can Has $30M: LOLcats Become Funny Business

Would the thought of investing $30 million in a set of WordPress blogs and tools for captioning pictures of cats make you laugh out loud? That’s what Foundry Group, Madrona Venture Group, Avalon Ventures and SoftBank Capital have done, putting together the first institutional funding for Cheezburger, the LOLcat and Fail Blog publisher.

Cheezburger was founded in 2007 by Ben Huh, who raised $2.25 million from angel investors at the time to buy the blog “I Can Has Cheezburger.” Huh has run the company as a lean, profitable operation since then, with 50 employees based in Seattle.

“This is a company that’s borne of no one’s expectations, and we’re totally fine with that,” Huh said in an interview Monday, admitting that, yes, “it’s a cat-picture Web site.”

Huh said Cheezburger had fended off multiple funding offers throughout the years, but finally decided to call back some VCs this fall. “If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it well,” he explained.

Today the ad-supported Cheezburger network of humor sites has 375 million page views and 110 million video views per month, with its 16.5 million visitors uploading 500,000 pictures and videos.

“We’re not here to flip,” said Huh, explaining that the company will use its $30 million to ensure it creates a long-term viable business. He said Cheezburger would open up 18 new job listings Tuesday alongside the funding announcement. Huh said his goal is to build “the Disney of the 21st century.”

Image via I Can Has Cheezburger user jasmine.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work