Fellows’ perspective: Ian Jennings (Rutgers/bit.ly) on Chris Poole of 4chan

Please enjoy this guest post from Ian Jennings, a HackNY fellow, student at Rutgers University and intern at bit.ly.

Moot speaks to the fellows

This Monday the fellows and I met up with Chris Poole at Dogpatch Labs. Chris is the founder of 4chan.org – an online image board he has been running for more than 6 years. 4chan receives more than 1 million posts and 700 million page impressions per month. There are over 9,000 people on the first page of 4chan’s most popular board at any given time.

Poole created 4chan when he was 15 years old after stumbling the Japanese website, ‘Futaba Channel’. The Futaba Channel is similar to a forum, but the center of the discussion is around images rather than text. At the time, nothing like the Futaba Channel channel existed in English. Chris translated Futaba software and created what we know today as the English imageboard.

However, image centric discussion is not the only unique aspect of 4chan. The site also allows for users to post on the site without ever creating an account. Chris stated that the anonymous aspect of 4chan has led to a high ratio of posters to lurkers and raw unfiltered conversation unseen on websites requiring registration. Poole noted that the anonymous user generated content created some unique challenges. Since he cannot guarantee or filter user uploaded content, he has a hard time finding advertisers willing to embed their message on 4chan.

Chris stated that after more than 6 years of administration he has learned close to everything he could about 4chan. Now he plans on utilizing his knowledge of imageboards and anonymous communities to develop the next imageboard software.

He has just finished raising money for his new project, so he was full of fresh advice. He suggested that new entrepreneurs reach out to investors they believe can actually help their business. He also suggested that they take interest in angels, as some angel investors are taking special interest in New York startups.

When asked specifically about the New York area, Chris offered a range of startup tips. He mentioned that there is a shortage of experienced programmers in New York. The field is competitive; he noted that it took him almost two months to find a back end developer. Where tech challenges are being solved in the valley, he quoted John Borthwick, explaining that “New York houses the more creative and idea based startups.” He noted that entrepreneurs should take interest in investors in the city, but not forget about the valley altogether. His newest startup has a mix of investors from both Silicon Valley and New York City.

The fellows stuck around long after the talk ended, asking questions.

Thanks, Chris, and thanks, Ian!