I can has bizness model?

by Mathew on August 19, 2008 · 7 comments

The company behind the I Can Has Cheezburger site, the leading purveyor of “lolcats” photos and related merchandise — as well as the always excellent Failblog.org and several other similar properties — has launched a new site called Engrish Funny, which features… yes, you guessed it: funny pictures. In this case, they are photos of T-shirts, store signs and retail products from Asian countries with mangled English printed on them (if this strikes you as familiar territory, it’s probably because engrish.net has been around for quite awhile).

As with I Can Has Cheezburger, however, which wasn’t the first to come up with LOLcats (that dubious honour goes to the popular 4chan network), the company known as Pet Holdings says it is hoping to put its own “spin” on the Engrish phenomenon. Pet Holdings’ other properties include I Has a Hot Dog (like LOLcats, but for dogs), the political site Pundit Kitchen (like LOLcats but with politicians), Totally Looks Like (celebrities and their lookalikes) and GraphJam.

According to co-founder Ben Huh, who talked with Mike Arrington on video in the TechCrunch founder’s backyard recently (embedded below), the company plans to launch some other sites soon, and also wants to work with some major media partners. The interesting part of the video for me, however, was when Huh started talking about pageviews and revenue. According to the Pet Holdings CEO, the sites get a total of about 3.3 million pageviews a day, and about 5 million unique visitors a month, with the majority of those going to I Can Has Cheezburger and the Failblog (in recent interviews, Huh has said that I Can Has Cheezburger gets about 1.4 million or 1.5 million or 2.2 million pageviews a day).

After Mike presses him, Huh says that the revenue per thousand (RPM) is higher than the average of about 80 cents (it’s not clear whether that’s per ad or per page, but Mike says in his post that it’s per page). As several commenters note at TechCrunch, that puts the site’s revenue somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1-million a year, which is not too shabby for a site with funny pictures. But then Huh says that the company employs 12 people — some to moderate comments, check the photos, run the back-end of the sites, etc. Even $1-million isn’t that much when it has to pay room and board for 12 people, not to mention hosting the photos, bandwidth, etc. And Pet Holdings bought I Can Has Cheezburger from its founders last year for $2-million.

Is there a business model in there somewhere? I’m not sure. (for bonus points, check out what happens when Mike jokingly tells Huh the camera is off at the end of the video).

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