Picture images of little kitties playfully spinning about with a meme tagging the photo “Calgon, take me away” or imagine a video of a massive St. Bernard so scared to go down a stairwell as his owner tries to lure him down that all he can do is cower and whine at the thought. These are the types of things you can view on the website icanhas.cheezburger.com. They are cute and they are funny.
Founder and CEO of Cheezburger Inc, which landed on The Wall Street Journal’s 2012 list of top 50 U.S. venture-backed companies, Ben Huh has a very simple philosophy: “We want people to make each other happy.” It seems to be working because, according to the Wall Street Journal, the company now has $32 million in venture funding. Cheezburger asks for user-generated content, which is reviewed by the employees and highlighted on the home page.
The website is so huge that Bravo has based a television series on it called “LOLwork,” and it’s basically a show about how to make the Internet funny. It highlights amusing animals, funny videos and the swift and nimble rise of Internet pop culture and the people behind the Web pages.
“Platform of Humor”
Cheezburger’s motto is to “make people laugh 5 minutes a day.” The I Can Has Cheezburger? website is not about cheeseburgers or food at all; it’s about funny cats, adorable dogs and kooky animals of all kinds. It highlights images and videos capturing our domesticated and loveable furry (sometimes furless) friends adorned with quick-witted grammatically incorrect captions. That’s it. But that seems to be enough.
The employees at Cheezburger work all day to understand what users want to see, so they research what is trending and put that on their website. It isn’t easy creating content that is not only funny but appropriate for all ages to view. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Huh says they want to avoid the “starfish” shots (this is when an animal is showing too much anus) and obeying the rule “absolutely no dead cats” (being sure there are no posts of animals that did not survive the highlighted incident) is a testament to their values and convictions.
Not only do they operate the website I Can Has Cheezburger but also Fail Blog, Memebase, ROFLrazzi and The Daily What — all of which offer different types of humorous content, not strictly animal-based.
From Cheezburger to “LOLwork”
Going from icanhas.cheezburger.com to the Bravo TV Network, “LOLwork” is quite a leap for this Seattle-based Internet company of 90 employees. While not all of the staff will appear on the show, the ones that do are quirky, charismatic and quite-curious computer gurus who create content, debate about what is and isn’t funny and argue, but this documentary is low drama. It’s more a tongue-in-cheek view of the world behind what we see everyday on our computers. The things happening behind the scenes are really happening in their lives and not scripted.
Their jobs are strange, their work is odd and that is just normal to these employees. They aren’t actors but they do know they are being filmed. So their “normal” may be a little over the top, and that is OK because they are all awkwardly entertaining.
What’s Up With Ben Huh
Cheezburger is “a thesis about the Internet; (the Internet) needs it’s own platform for humor, so we are going to let people express their sense of humor and remix it to create something brand new,” explains Huh on Forbes.com. Huh was named Entreprenuer of the Year in media and entertainment for the Pacific Northwest region by Ernst & Young, reports The Seattle Times. With a network of online humor sites, the Cheezburger Network’s fan base is at 20 million users monthly.
Written by Casey Farley.
The first film review Casey ever wrote was on a McDonald’s napkin. It said E.T. = awesome! He was 5.