How does one build an empire on pictures of cats with silly, misspelled captions?
As most fans of the Internet now know, I Can Has Cheezburger has become one of the most popular sites online. Its daily collection of LOLCats is the source of endless humor, and you can be pretty sure that someone in your office is reading the site and chuckling to themselves right now.
But how did it happen?
At the Gnomedex conference here Friday, I Can Has Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh talked about the genesis of the site, and some of the milestones it has gone through as it has become not only a household name but the vanguard–if not the originator–of one of the most popular memes ever to hit cyberspace.
The popularity of LOLcats officially began on January 11, 2007, when the notorious cheezburger-captioned cat was discovered by Eric Nakagam and Kari Unebasami and the domain name was registered:
On that day, Huh said, the original founders of I Can Has Cheezburger, Eric Nakagawa and Kari Unebasami, found a LOLCat with a now-famous grey fluffy cat meowing over the words, “I Can Has Cheezburger?”
For whatever reason, it struck a chord, and immediately, the two registered icanhascheezburger.com and started their site.
And the rest, as they say, is history…’100 million page views a month’ kind of history.
As a result, I Can Has Cheezburger now has six sister sites. There’s Pundit Kitchen and GraphJam, which focus on politics and graphs; I Has a Hot Dog, about dogs; Totally Looks Like, an entertainment-oriented site; Fail Blog, which I Can Has Cheezburger bought and which pokes fun at people’s screw-ups; and Engrish Funny, a site with photos of signs mangling English.
Now, the main site is approaching 100 million page views a month and Huh said he thinks it will top a billion page views in 2008.
All told, it has more than 800,000 LOLCats in its database and now, an I Can Has Cheezburger book is in the works. It will come out in October.