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
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst / Trainee Application Support Analyst - Essex

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before