At SXSW in Austin, WebProNews spoke with Ben Huh, Founder and CEO of the Cheezburger Network about some upcoming projects from the company, and a new site they launched aimed at capturing the darker part of Easter. It’s called Sketchy Bunnies.
“It’s based on the site Sketchy Santas, which we purchased last year, and it’s about basically people in bunny suits, and other people – the miniature humans that react to them,” Huh tells us. “I think it’s great for Easter, and it’s basically just a seasonal website for us.”
“So far at the office, everybody has had traumatic nightmares about their childhood, so I think that’s excellent,” he adds.
Huh talked about the venture capital the Cheezburger Network raised, and some of the plans for that money.
“We raised $30 million from for VCs…the reason for it was we wanted the room to experiment,” Huh explains. “We’ve been a profitable company since we started in September of 2007 – we’ve been profitable every quarter. So what we wanted to do was, since we have a model that already works, can we just do something crazy and try to blow it up much bigger, so this money gives us room to hire, try out new ideas, and actually fail, because that’s something that we as humans are very good at.”
“It’s money that we feel good about taking risks with,” he continues. “We want want to go challenge our existing ideas, and challenge existing models about how to do content, and we want to make sure we can provide the right support and tools for our users, and so we’re going to use that money to hire a lot of engineers, and reach out to the community, and continue to build out more features for us.”
Huh hopes to bring more of a gaming element to the Cheezburger properties. “We’re trying some things out with game dynamics, so we see it’s very hot this year, and was last year as well,” he says.
This sounds like a smart move if SCVNGR CEO Seth Priebatch is right about this being the decade of games.
“I believe 2 or 3 of the investors in Zynga are also investors in us,” Huh says. “We don’t have a partnership with Zynga or anything like that, and I don’t think we really need to. They’re very different properties, but we want to help people understand humor and user-generated content through the lens of games, because that’s what happens right now. People come to our site, submit a bunch of photos, and hope that they make it to the front page, and that is part of the game.”
According to Zynga, 40-year-old moms are the new hard core gamers. I know from experience that they tend to like funny cat pictures and other areas the Cheezburger Network specialize in as well.