Ben Huh is the founder and CEO of the Cheezburger Network. It is known mainly for I Can Has Cheezburger. I remember telling someone he was speaking at Big Omaha, and explaining what he did, and they rolled their eyes. I wish they could’ve heard his presentation, because they would’ve been impressed. Here are my notes from his talk.

  • The goal of the company is to make everyone in the world happy for five minutes a day.
  • LOL Cats has been around forever, even if people didn’t realize it. Even in 1905, there’s a picture of a cat in a high chair with, “What’s delaying my dinner?”
  • Grew up in Seoul, Korea, travelled the world. Moved to U.S. for freshman year in high school. Got a journalism degree. The power of media attracted me.
  • Had a failed startup in 2001. $40,000 in personal debt. Lost half a million dollars in 18 months. Great way to get your career started. Didn’t think how to get out of debt.
  • Instead, got a Street MBA. No matter how low the salary, wanted a direct connection with the founder of the company. Wanted to learn from them directly. That’s the Street MBA.
  • Ended up in Seattle in early 2007. Became internet friends with founder of Cheezburger and worked for him pro bono. Kind of bs’d my way into role.
  • Stupid: “I would like to start a media company by buying a cat picture Web site.”
  • Internet will fund anything! “Can you give me 2.25 million dollars to fund cat picture company?”
  • Showed up at investor’s meeting with no powerpoint. Only a laptop, a website, and scrolled through to show investors why this site was funny.
  • Got out of debt, and put down $10,000 non-refundable, downpayment to hopefully get $2.25 million investment.
  • Left behind $140,000 salary, to pursue this, just as great recession began in 2007.
  • Something weird about entrepreneurs. We’re a little off in the brain. Things that excite us make others cringe. That’s why I think we make great entrepreneurs.
  • A profitable cat-picture site? Do Chinese think, as they are building our products we’re buying, “Why do Americans buy this crap we make?”
  • Sept 07 buy I Can Haz Cheezburger. (Pet Holdings, Inc.)
  • 20 million users every month, largest human destination on web. 15% of all traffic on WordPress.com.
  • Someone asked me, “What makes a successful startup CEO?” Someone who knows how to survive failures. Life is filled with failures.
  • We’ve made it a business process. FAIL BLOG, one of our websites.
  • Failures are something most media companies are averse to.
  • Earth compared to size of Sun. Media companies compared to size of durty, nasty, dumb people of the world. The people of the world produce much more media compared to media companies. People create more in one day that media does in a single year. There is some quality in there. Chuck Norris, Dr. Horrible, Tay Zonday, History of Dance, Where the Hell is Matt. These things have been watched 100s of million of times. Rivals popularity of tv shows today.
  • Internet culture will produce the rockstars of tomorrow.
  • Random media can make people famous. Wasn’t possible before internet culture became a part of our daily lives. Where we realized power of each other.
  • Crap is now gold. Internet has taken away the line between creators and audience. We are entertained by random people just as we are entertained by funded media. All you have to do is find it, its good enough, and the Internet will help you. If you collect enough of these tiny pieces of gold you’ll have a company.
  • Beign weird doesn’t mean you’re alone. (Thx, Internet.) Club for fan-generated fiction of Twilight. People like it so much they create their own fan fiction. That’s weird. People think I’m weird, I think that’s weird. The internet helps you find those people.
  • Perspective cat with bacon taped to it. More people know this cat than know who I am. There is a market for bacon taped to a cat, or fail blogs. Markets didn’t know. It’s not market problem. We all want to entertain ourselves. Who cares the source as long as at end of day we get our kicks?
  • Nothing wrong with what we do. There is not a line between the audience and the creator. Haters gonna hate.
  • The potential of Internet Culture. World doesn’t need another GroupOn or Facebook. It needs the weird little corners. Twilight fan-fiction is an asset to the world.
  • Community? Self-expression? Anti-pop culture? Yes. It’s about matchmaking. Like this Tetris card.
  • We are more likely to advertise a product or service for free than ever before. We broadcast through Twitter.
  • Much rather create a product where 5 people out of 100 are passionate than 20 people who said, “Yeah, I’d use that product”. Drive passion to get people to use it. Embracing your community is embracing your marketing. Without our users we are nothing.
  • Google. Facebook. Twitter. What do all three have in common? They produce no content of their own. They generate money through advertising, yet create no content of their own. They are three of the most influential companies ever.
  • Mtv vs Cheezburger. Mtv is instituion of pop culture. Cheezburger is embodiment of Internet culture, user driven. Not advertising driven.
  • “Who the hell are these people?” College students who figured out you can use excel to create charts about music. You never know who will make your product better.
  • The Internet vs The Interwebs – What we use vs What we live in. Companies and sites to do a transaction. Expedia. CNN. Google. Ebay. Amazon. 1.0. I consume, therefore I Internet. vs Twitter. 4chan. DeviantART. Angry Birds. Wikipedia. Sites we use to express ourselves, explain ourselves to the world. I participate, therefore I am the Internets. “I live in the Intertubes.”
  • This is internet culture
  • Find that one corner of the internet and connect. Find that home away from home.
  • Make everyone in the world happy for 5 minutes a day. Adopted as mission statement through emails we got from users.
  • This past January we raised $30 million venture investment. People want pictures of cats with misspelled pictures. 200 cable channels and can’t find anything we like, or find content online that we like that doesn’t make sense to establishment.
  • Money is only useful if you follow your dreams.
  • Life is never what it’s supposed to be.

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