How one man's online pet project netted him a $30m fortune

It is one of the internet's most surreal success stories: a collection of funny pictures of cats embellished with misspelled slogans, aggregated on a blog called
icanhascheezburger.com. But now it will taken slightly more seriously; its owner has received some $30m in venture capital funding. It is a large sum, but considerably less than the amount the phenomenon – known as "lolcats" – has probably cost businesses across the world in wasted time.

The blog, which takes its bizarre name from a caption attached to a very early "lolcat" starring an obese, short-haired Persian blue, encourages users to upload pictures of cats in compromising situations with accompanying, deliberately misspelt, text. It is the star of a series of around 50 blogs published by Cheezburger, an internet company founded in 2007 by former journalist Ben Huh.

Others include the popular Failblog, an archive of mainly amateur photos and videos in which the subject meets an unfortunate and usually slapstick end. It may sound like nonsense – but as more and more of the workers of the world become chained to desks and computers, time wasting, as Mr Huh knows, is big business, and he takes it seriously.

"I want Cheezburger to be the ultimate leader and influence in internet culture," he said on receiving the investment. The 33-year-old entrepreneur did not start the lolcats phenomenon. Its name is a compound of LOL, the popular online acronym meaning "laugh out loud", and cats. He first became aware of it in 2007 when the blog linked to his own site, a blog on pets, and the directed traffic caused it to crash.

He promptly quit his job, secured financing and cobbled together $10,000 to buy the site from the two Hawaiian bloggers who had set it up.

Now it, and Cheezburger's 50 other blogs, receive around 18,000 humorous submissions a day. But what will Mr Hu do with $30m?

"Hire, hire, hire," he said.

So if you want to get paid for wasting time on the internet all day, you know who to call.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Support and Development Engineer

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The leading provider of Employee Managem...

    Recruitment Genius: Creative Designer

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Kent based design consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Gazetteer Consultant

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking to work for an ...

    Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test