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The Cheezburger Network, an online entertainment site featuring pictures of funny animals and other Internet memes, has purchased online meme encyclopedia Know Your Meme from video blog Rocketboom as part of a seven-figure deal.
The Cheezburger Network is known for bringing pictures of “LOLcats,” an Internet meme involving ridiculous captions for various cat photos, into mainstream popularity. The captions are usually intentionally misspelled and come across as some kind of rudimentary pidgin. The meme was popular on image-hosting sites like 4chan before the Cheezburger network came into being.
The company bought Know Your Meme from Rocketboom, the site’s original owner, to serve as a complement to its current meme repository called Memebase. That site is much more like I Can Has Cheezburger, the company’s flagship site, in that it simply hosts memes rather than documenting the creation and evolution of each meme.
“If you think about Memebase, it’s an entertainment destination,” said Cheezburger Network chief executive Ben Huh. “If you look at Know Your Meme, it provides the context for the world around that.”
Know Your Meme has a reputation as being an encyclopedia for Internet memes. The site tries to document each meme and trace back to where it began. It uses a quasi-scientific approach in its video series, also called Know Your Meme, that became a sensation on YouTube — with some videos averaging more than 500,000 hits. Outside of the videos, the site also tracks the appearance of memes in search engines and hosts a large number of images for each meme.
But the online show’s hosts, Kenyatta Cheese and Ellie Rountree, recently ended their tenure on the series after four seasons and more than 60 episodes. Rocketboom, the owner of Know Your Meme, was reportedly facing financial troubles and a looming mass exodus in January. The video series has since been put on hold until the Cheezburger Network can figure out a way to effectively run and monetize it, Huh said.
“I don’t want to produce all this capability and do one or two shows and then stop,” he said. “I want to make sure if we can do it, we can do it for a long time.”
Huh started the company in September 2007. The Seattle-based startup has been profitable since them and now attracts 16.5 million monthly visitors adding up to 375 million pageviews and 110 million video views. The company recently raised $30 million from Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Madrona Venture Group and SoftBank Capital.