When Christopher Poole founded messaging board 4chan 11 and a half years ago, he was just a 15-year-old kid. Now, he's stepping down an adult with a Ph.D. (in large-scale community management, which fits him well) and more than a decade of experience running (by himself!) one of the most notorious online destinations. Poole is more widely known as "Moot," the pseudonym he uses around the internet, even to post updates about 4chan's current state of affairs, the most recent of which is his resignation. Over the years, we've seen him talk about many, many things, more than once discussing 4chan's financial woes. See, despite the website's size, it doesn't have backers and major advertisers: It relies mostly on banner ads with occasional donation drives during especially lean times.
It's easy to infer from the data Moot released earlier that 4chan's hosting costs are no joke -- he even used his own money at times to keep the site running as its sole administrator. According to the list posted on Twitter the website has enjoyed 42 billion pageviews and over a billion visitors for the past 11 years. In his interview with TechCrunch over his departure, Moot also said 4chan's user number has been a steady 20 million for the past five years. He believes "lo-fi web" or stripped-down forums like 4chan and Reddit are back in demand, as regulars tend to treat them as third places, locations where they can socialize outside of work and home.
When asked about the impact 4chan has on people in the same interview, he replied:
I think when people think about 4chan's impact of over the years they think of Lolcats, and Anonymous, and Internet jokes, but I think it's more. What's kept me invested over the years is that when someone comes up to me on the street [who knows him from 4chan], every single intersection with someone face to face have been very positive. "Thank you for 4chan because it helped me in a certain time in my life. I was in high school, or in college, or after work and wanted to blow off steam." I think it helped smooth over the peaks and valleys for people. It's this comfortable, reliable place they could go to after they got home. It was a respite.
Anyone who's ever dug into 4chan's forums knows it has deep, dark corners that are better off left unexplored, though. It's also been at the center, and even the birthplace, of a number of controversies, as people can post anonymously and threads disappear over time. That said, Moot told TechCrunch he wouldn't let his oldest brainchild (he's had a couple of startups since then) die. He's apparently spent the past couple of years preparing for his departure, promoting some volunteers to senior positions and working to make sure the site will be properly funded in his absence. As for what he's going to do after 4chan, Moot said he has nothing lined up at the moment and would love to just take it easy for now.
[Image credit: TechCrunch/Flickr]