Possibly the world’s largest crowd-sourced online humour site, 9GAG, recently secured an impressive US$2.8 million funding round from True Ventures and the likes of Chris Sacca, Kevin Rose and Naval Ravikant. According to co-founder Ray Chan, the funding will be used to grow the engineering team as the Hong Kong and US-based startup seeks to stamp its mark as a serious contender in the art of tickling online users’ funny bone.
9GAG started raising its round of funding at the beginning of 2012. Ray says, “We believe that if we want to build a great company, we need the experience and connections from the best people.” According to True Ventures’ welcome post, 9GAG currently sees over 70 million unique visitors monthly.
Ray mentioned that the best VCs are in Silicon Valley, unless you are a startup targeting local markets which requires strategic investments. In his opinion, it is always better to raise funding from US investors as they understand the “game” better. “Although more investors are willing to invest in non-US startups, geography is still a concern for them as they want to work with their portfolio companies more closely. However, working outside of Silicon Valley may reduce the noise. Overall, I think it’s still to be better if you are based in Silicon Valley,” commented Ray.
The team behind 9GAG are/were also involved in other projects such as StartupQuote and Singboard. But, according to Ray, these are just side projects and they have currently paused or stopped them to focus on improving 9GAG. When asked what is the secret sauce behind building a crowd-sourced website, Ray had this to share, “The trick is simple: always care about your users the most. Your customers are your users, not advertisers or investors.”