The Cheezburger Network, known for some of the top procrastination sites on the web, including I Can Has Cheezburger?, FAIL blog, and The Daily What, is about to grow up. The company has raised $30 million in its first round of funding from the Foundry Group, Madrona Venture Group, Avalon Ventures, and SoftBank Capital. CEO Ben Huh tells us that the agenda for the influx of cash includes an expansion of the company’s 50-strong workforce (18 job openings just went up), acquisitions (including large ones — “depends on what’s available”) and catching up with user needs (Huh says the tool people use to add captions to cat photos on LolCats, for instance, is in need of an update).
Huh says Cheezburger’s revenue — which comes from ads, book sales and merchandise — more than doubled last year and the company is profitable. The network had previously raised $2.25 million from a group of investors, (including *InfoSpace* backers Rufus Lumry and John E. Cunningham IV. Some of the company’s initial investors are now cashing out, although Huh wouldn’t say whether he had sold some of his own holdings as part of the round. “I’m here for the long term,” he said.
During our conversation, I asked Huh whether the venture capital backing will put new pressure on Cheezburger to either sell out or, ultimately, go public. He said that the new backers had a long-term vision for the future of the site, adding that otherwise they “won’t get much of their money back.” “This isn’t like make a little bit of software and sell it to *Microsoft* for $100 million,” Huh said. “We want it to be a big brand and destination.”
The company currently has about 50 humor sites in its network — a figure that Huh says won’t necessarily change that much. “The model of getting to 1,000 sites … is not doable,” he said. But Huh said that Cheezburger will be trying to make more money from its existing properties. It is hiring its first ad sales people, for instance, and Huh said the company would like to develop some more sophisticated ad products. The company’s sites currently attract 16.5 million unique visitors a month.