New CFO Pearl Chan on What Drew Her to the Cheezburger Network and Why Humor is for Everyone

7/1/10

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naturally evolve. It sounds kind of silly, but that’s how the idea of T-shirt-a-day [came about]—it’s the fans! Instead of a T-shirt that says ‘I Can Has Cheezburger’ with a cheeseburger on it, now we have a different design T-shirt a day. It’s kind of a collaborative type of event that’s generated by the users. And because we have happy users, we somehow figure out other ways to monetize… We generate by advertising, but we do royalty programs with the books and stuff, and you say we’re doing greeting cards. Those are things that people come to us and they say, ‘hey, would you like to do this?’ And those are areas we’re continuing to look to expand.

X: It’s always hard to predict where a company will expand to in the future, but if you had a hunch, what would it be?

PC: I would think that in the near term it would be more into expanding in the current categories that we have, right? Like growing more in books or greeting cards or something of that nature—other things that people would just love to see a picture of a cat-a-day on, like a calendar or something like that… It’s not like brand new, amazing ideas. It’s just current ideas that they [users] just want our pictures on. We’re not reinventing anything completely new in the merchandizing. I mean, we’re not coming up with any special gadgets or something. It’s the same kind of stuff that people normally wear, they just want our pictures on them.

X: Do you have a favorite Cheezburger site?

PC: Of course my very favorite is the cats—I Can Has Cheezburger—that’s the cornerstone. And I think it depends on the personality, because I spend time on FAIL Blog—I mean, those are the two biggest sites—so I spend time on FAIL Blog, but it’s more my 14-year-old’s humor. He loves that site. And what’s so great about it is it has something funny for everybody. And that’s the thing: we want to be anyone and everyone’s humor network.

X: Your son must love that you got a job with I Can Has Cheezburger.

PC: It is amazing, because, you know, you get a lot of different jobs, but your family doesn’t necessarily identify with it in such a way. I mean, how many of us actually get a job with something that is so mainstream that everyone identifies with it? This is really approaching mainstream, and that’s what’s kind of funny and scary about the whole thing. Because just a couple of years ago people thought this was kind of silly—silly pictures of cats: Is this a fad? Is this really going to be something? And it’s almost like we keep pinching ourselves. But it goes back to the core, keeping your user happy…If your user is happy, they continue to submit wonderful, wonderful content. And without that—without our users participating by sending content, by voting, just being part of the community—it’s all community interaction. And we’ve been able to kind of help generate that—it’s like the viral moment that’s been going on and we just kind of help it along.

X: What’s your favorite part about the company culture?

PC: It’s a fun place to work! It has a tremendous amount of energy and potential. The investors are wonderful. The team is wonderful. And I’ve done a lot of things in my career, but what really gets me very, very excited and challenged is that nothing is set in concrete. We’re developing the playbook as we go, and that’s the fun part—to invent things as you go and try out things and see what works.

There’s nothing pre-written about what we’re doing… What is very, very secret is our ideas. We come up with all these crazy ideas—it’s almost like we have to stay on the cutting edge of humor… And that’s the intellectual property. It’s the ideas that are in the ‘brain trust’ right here. We have a really good brain trust because we have people from all different backgrounds, and we swoosh it up and what comes out is the Cheezburger way!

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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