It's hard to believe, but I Can Haz Cheezburger, the website that launched a million lolcats, celebrated its fifth birthday earlier this week. The site was created on January 11, 2007 by Eric Nakagawa and his girlfriend Kari Unebasami, after Eric took the now infamous Happy Cat image he found in the online forum Something Awful, and posted it online.
One of the most interesting aspects of the ICHC story is that Nakagawa didn't create the original lolcat image, but figured out how to capitalize on the idea of sharing captioned cats online. The original Happy Cat picture on which the site is based, actually came from a Russian cat food company of the same name, who first posted the image of the smiling British Shorthair (sans caption) around 2003.
But back to the story...
Shortly after posting some of the funny cat images, which originated in the online forum 4chan but had not yet reached mainstream popularity, Nakagawa and his girlfriend decided to register the site, and quickly saw it begin to grow. In September 2007, I Can Has Cheezburger was purchased by investors for $2 million dollars, a move that left many scratching their heads. In 2008, Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh told CNET, "When you tell investors that the site we bought has pictures of cats and not only pictures of cats, but cats with misspelled words on it, they call their lawyers."
Five years later, The Cheezburger Network, which thrives on the idea of community and user submitted content, has transformed into an web empire consisting of over 50 sites, which garner over 375 million pages views a month. The network has also found success offline with merchandise such as t-shirts and calendars, and has produced seven books, two of which have appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers list.
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In honor of the birthday celebration, Cheezburger employees put together a compilation of their favorite videos, which basically amounts to some of the most popular and beloved cat videos of all time. It's hard to believe that five years ago Maru and Keyboard Cat had not yet come into our lives, and really just begs the question, what the heck were we all doing online before 2007?
Silly as it may sound, I Can Has Cheezburger was definitely influential in my path to becoming a cat blogger. I don't recall how I first discovered the site, but remember sitting in my cubicle at work sometime in 2007 thinking it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was also around the same time another one of my favorite sites, Cute Overload (c. 2005) was really starting to take off, and I would spend copious amounts of time on both, sending my favorite pictures to friends and co-workers (yes, I was that girl), while relieving on the job stress and boredom with my cute animal and lolcat fix. The practice certainly influenced me a few years later, when I had the idea to create a blog where I could compile a collection of all of my favorite cat finds, so that like-minded people (who were also likely bored at work) could also enjoy it and pass it along.