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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

February 4, 2015 at 10:35 AM

Cheezburger getting high on cash, pot

Seattle-based humor network Cheezburger is still chuckling along after six years, giving millions of people a daily smirk or laugh.

Today, the company announced that it’s taking another hit of capital from venture capitalists.

It’s also starting a new marijuana-themed video series, featuring people getting high and explaining things.

The video concept is being baked in Seattle, where Cheezburger’s nearly 50 employees are just a short stumble away from the Dick’s Drive-In on Lower Queen Anne. But it could end up being filmed in Boulder, Colo., according to a blog post by founder Ben Huh inviting people to help brainstorm a name for the show and nominate participants:

I have no idea if it will be funny. If it’s not funny. We’ll just bury it under a mountain of cat litter and it’ll never be talked about again. Fail fast and try again is the motto.

Production quality will be fast and furious: I’m talking iPhone video on someone’s comfy couch here.

Simultaneously, the company is releasing new versions of its iOS and Android apps that package its different humor channels and let users comment on, edit and remix images and GIFs.

Investors are enthused enough about Cheezburger’s prospects that they provided another $2.74 million, bringing the company’s total funding to $39.99 million, mostly from a $30 million round in 2011. The latest round came from Madrona Venture Group, Avalon Ventures and Foundry Group.

Cheezburger started out distributing pictures of cute cats and other critters overlaid with captions, building on memes culled from online bulletin board 4chan.

The company added additional sites and eventually built an ad-funded network of humor sites that generated 75.1 million page views from 6.2 million visitors over the last month, but saw traffic trend downward over the last year, according to Quantcast.

Huh wouldn’t discuss sales but said the network saw 14 percent traffic growth sequentially from December to January.  Headcount is up from about 40 employees in late 2013, when Huh reorganized management. He expects to continue running with just under 50 employees.

From its flagship site Icanhascheezburger.com:

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Cheezburger image

 

 

 

 

Comments | Topics: ben huh, Cheezburger, Digital media

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