by Elizabeth Eun (a hoomin.)
Photos courtesy of the Cheezburger Network
Ben Huh may just be one of the most popular guys on the internet, except no one really knows his name—just his brand. But that doesn’t really matter, since Huh, the undisputed king of memes, is sitting pretty as the CEO of a company that literally runs on stupid: Cheezburger Network, the 3-year-old, Seattle-based parent company of a chain of humor websites that include “I Can Has Cheezburger?” (better known as “LOLcats”), “I Has a Hotdog!” (“LOLdogs”), “FAIL Blog” and “Engrish Funny.”
All those photos of screwy animals with weird and grammatically challenged “kitty pidgin” slogans that you’ve probably re-tweeted and posted on Facebook? You can thank the Cheezburger Network, except they’d probably just thank you right back; the sites are almost entirely fueled by fans, many of whom are probably logging on right now to LO-freakin-L in their cubicles. People submit photos for free, with or without text written in “lolspeak” (the company’s self-invented lexicon) or add capshuns (captions) to an archive of available pictures. Anyone can vote, upload or create “lolz.” The result: an internet phenomenon powered by a global penchant for cute animals and misspelled, if not moronic, sentences.
To put things in a greater context, a small staff culls through around 15,000 daily user submissions for the most LOL-worthy photos and publishes around one percent on the sites. That small percent is viewed by more than 375 million people per month, and is the reason the company makes some real moneyz off the strange world that is the internet.
The concept is so simple, its popularity is almost maddening. Who knew that capshunned kitteh photos could make one an internet sensation, and more importantly, filthy rich? (The company does not disclose its net worth, but we can assume the ads and merchandise rake in some serious cash.) But according to this Northwestern-schooled CEO, the überinteractive sites are all about “making people happy for five minutes a day. People need a mental vacation, and we want to provide it for them.”
Huh, 33, shares more about his cyber ventures—which includes working with his wife Emily, and the search for evil pandas. And did we mention? They have a dog named Nemo because Huh is allergic to cats. Oh, the ironeez.
We all knew that Google was creepin’, but no one seemed to be able to get enough proof to pin down the tech-giant that is Google – until now.
According to the Korea Times, South Korean officials seized hard drives from Google’s Seoul office last August, and announced on Thursday that the drives held “e-mails, instant messages and other private data sent over Wi-Fi networks.”
South Korea is the first country to announced publicly that it has proof that Google had illegally collected and stored data while making its “Street View” service, but Google has admitted that it had “accidentally” picked up information through its “Street View” cars before.
Although the information found on Google’s drives is a direct violation of the nation’s privacy protection laws, it is unclear whether Korean Police Agency will be able to prosecute the suspects, since it is likely they will be U.S. citizens.
“We have not seen the report, but as we have said before, we are profoundly sorry for having mistakenly collected payload data from unencrypted networks. As soon as we realized what had happened, we stopped collecting all Wi-Fi data from our Street View cars and immediately informed the authorities,” said a Google Korea spokeswoman.
The White House announced on Wednesday that Christina “Tina” Tchen, formerly the Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement, has been promoted to Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady.
“When selecting a replacement, I looked for someone who had the right experience to lead my team and am grateful to bring on Tina, whom I’ve known and respected for 20 years. Tina’s success leading the Office of Public Engagement, reaching out to people across the country and encouraging Americans from all walks of life to feel connected to this White House, makes her uniquely qualified to step up to this position,” said First Lady Michelle Obama in a statement.
Tchen, a Chinese American, is a former corporate lawyer, who began working for the Obamas during the 2008 campaign. She was also (and will still remain) the Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
“The new year is a time for new beginnings, and I am thrilled that for me, it is an opportunity to take on a new and exciting role here at the White House and support the First Lady’s incredible initiatives in the years ahead,” sad Tchen in a statement.
Happy 2011! Thanks for supporting us throughout the years!
As a little treat, we asked some prominent Asian Americans to share his/her New Year’s resolutions!
Far East Movement, hip hop quartet: We are thankful for the blessings we received in 2010 and we would like to commit to further supporting struggling or aspiring artists. Any progress that we have made is a direct credit to the community that supported us throughout the years. We will do more events with organizations like 4C the Power where we bring friends like Wong Fu Productions to high schools and teach students about songwriting, dance or film.
Karin Anna Cheung, actress: Spend more time with family, live everyday with purpose and without regret, be content, be aware of the blessings in my life, to love more and never stop creating.
Bobby ‘Big Phony’ Choy, singer/songwriter: I’ve never been big on New Year’s resolutions. But what does come to mind is a need to be a better friend to those closest to me, a better brother to those related to me, and a better son to my mother.
Dumbfoundead, rapper: To curse less!
Jen Wang, disgrasian.com: Read more books. Let me amend that: read a book. Because in the four years since I’ve been blogging, I’ve basically become illiterate.
Diana Nguyen, disgrasian.com: Getting through Level 3 of Rosetta Stone for Vietnamese.
Eugene Choi, producer: To start a regular workout regimen because it’s not good when you can rest a beer can on your gut. I plan to hit the gym regularly, continue playing softball, and join a soccer league. We’re actually still forming the soccer team—any Brazilians out there interested?
Joe Jo, Just Kidding Films: Discipline, because I grew up with nobody telling me what to do. Keeping a daily log/reminder in my schedule book in order to build good habits that encourage a disciplined lifestyle.
Bart Kwan, Just Kidding Films: To constantly put out creative content, whether it’s standup comedy, or writing sketch comedy or songs. This is the first year where I am going to have the luxury, discipline and motivation to really pursue my passion and make something of myself in entertainment. I will be brainstorming every single f-cking day in all creative aspects.
Lisa Ling, journalist: Re-connect with my close friends. 2010 was too busy…I’d like to find more balance.
Arden Cho, actress & model: Surround myself with quality people and remove the negative energy.
Randall Park, comedian & actor: New Year’s resolutions should be practical and achievable. This is why my resolution for 2011 is to wash my car. I haven’t washed it in several years. It’s sad.
Justin Chon, actor: To be more accepting. To love people even when it’s hard. Besides our basic human needs for food and shelter is the need to be loved. I hope 2011 will offer everyone LOVE. Remember that life is as long as a one-inch worm.
I confess, I’ve never managed to hold a resolution for more than a few weeks, but I bought a brand spankin’ new journal earlier this week, and I plan on writing in it every single day…we’ll see how that goes!
What’s your New Year’s resolution? Share in the comments!
Photos by Eric Sueyoshi, or courtesy of respective celebs
Planned on going to Korea to teach English for a few years? Better think again.
The South Korean government is testing out a four-month pilot program where robots, vaguely shaped like eggs, teach English to elementary school children.
The robot, aptly named “Engkey,” was developed by the Korea Institute of Science of Technology, and displays a female Caucasian face on a telvision display. The robots are controlled remotely by English teachers in the Philippines, and at 10 million won (roughly $9,000), will ultimately cost less than most foreign ESL teachers’ salaries.
“The kids seemed to love it since the robots look, well, cute and interesting. But some adults also expressed interest, saying they may feel less nervous talking to robots than a real person,” said Kim Mi-Young, an official at Daegu city education office, told Physorg.com “We are helping upgrade a key, strategic industry and all the while giving children more interest in what they learn.”
As of now, the bots are being used as a supplement to human teachers, and are still being tested, but schools and education officials may choose to use the bots full-time.