4chan sells to the founder of the site that inspired it

21 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

4chan Message Board Sold to Founder of 2Channel, a Japanese Web Culture Pioneer.

In a move that brings 4chan “full circle,” founder Christopher Poole sold the popular anonymous message board to Hiroyuki Nishimura, he announced Monday. “Hiroyuki is a pioneer in the world of anonymous communities, and can be thought of as the great-grandfather of 4chan,” Poole wrote, noting Nishimura created his site’s anime- and manga-focused predecessor, 2Channel. “None of us would be using 4chan today — or potentially any anonymous image board — if it weren’t for him.” Though 4chan also focused specifically on Japanese pop culture when it launched in 2003, in recent years it has been best known for the hoaxes and pranks its users often orchestrate.In the decade that 4Chan, the internet’s most offensive message board, has been online, it’s given us memes of the rarest variety and trolls of the absolutely worst kind. The site now sees more than 20 million visitors each month, a feat Poole accomplished without help from full-time employees or venture capital, The New York Times reports. Nishimura founded 2channel in 1999, and made his bones with a brash disregard for anybody’s feelings or expensive lawsuits before selling the site in 2009.

Since then, Nishimura has been at the centre of several controversies, including being hit with penalties for tax evasion in 2013 and having an American apparently take control of his site’s US servers last year. It also means 4chan’s laissez-fair, let’s-all-cum-on-anime-figurines-and-phone-in-bomb-threats-to-high-schools ethos probably won’t change—in a 2008 profile in Wired, Nishimura appeared as committed as Moot to letting bad shit happen on his website: Nishimura has lost about 50 lawsuits and owes millions of dollars in penalties, which he has no intention of paying. “If the verdict mandates deleting things, I’ll do it,” he says. “I just haven’t complied with demands to pay money. Would a cell phone carrier feel responsible when somebody receives a threatening phone call?” 4channers seem unusually pleased with the news, and the use of racial slurs against Nishimura is so far minimal: “This is the best thing that could have happened honestly,” commented one user. “At least it’s someone we know has experience.” Another asked “are we honorary japs now?”

There is nobody more qualified than Hiroyuki to lead 4chan, and I can’t think of a person better suited for the task.” As the Times notes, Nishimura — who sold 2channel in 2009 — was also recently announced as editor-in-chief of Variety Japan. 4chan, especially the /b/ “random” board, has shaped large parts of internet culture over the past decade. While 4Chan has struggled financially for years, even shutting down at times as Poole couldn’t pay to keep the servers running, 2channel was raking in a modest $1 million USD a year under Nishimura’s leadership. Among other things, it was the birthplace of the Anonymous hacktivist movement, which spread from a campaign against Scientology to a broad umbrella that can cover everything from anti-surveillance protests to hacks of major security companies.

Nishimura’s revenue came from attracting advertisers, something that 4Chan has always struggled with, likely due to the wildly offensive nature of many of the discussions that take place on the site. 4Chan has so far survived on donations, selling user perks, and some advertising. Along with 4chan, these sites have become breeding grounds for modern web culture and viral imagery, the fodder that new media sites like BuzzFeed have used to grow enormously in a short amount of time. 4chan is a fraction of the size of some of its competitors. Poole, who in the months before his departure trained others to take over the site, which he had planned to sell. “I can treat it more like a business by bringing people on, giving them responsibility and training them.” The question for 4chan, Reddit and other sites of this ilk is whether they can scale into booming, profitable businesses that live up to the potential many see in them.

While sites like these draw enormous amounts of traffic, many do not track their users to serve targeted advertising, an approach that many marketers have gravitated toward since the rise of Facebook and Google. Poole, however, pointed to monetization methods like 4chan Pass, a paid form of user support that offers some site perks in exchange for a $20 annual fee. “What remains to be seen is if display advertising is the future of business on the web, or if it is generally creating value with a product that people are willing to pay for,” he said. “I’m proud to be taking Mr.

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