HowStuffWorks

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HowStuffWorks, Inc.
Howstuffworks logo.svg
Web address howstuffworks.com
Slogan Learn How Everything Works.
Commercial? Yes
Type of site Educational website
Registration None
Available language(s) English
Owner Discovery Communications
Created by Marshall Brain
Launched 1998
Revenue Advertising
Alexa rank negative increase 682 (April 2014)[1]
Current status Active

HowStuffWorks, Inc. is a commercial edutainment website that was founded by Marshall Brain with the goal of giving its target audience an insight into the way in which many things work. The site uses various media in its effort to explain complex concepts, terminology and mechanisms, including photographs, diagrams, videos and animations, and articles. A documentary television series with the same name also premiered in November 2008 on the Discovery Channel.

History[edit]

In 1998, North Carolina State University professor Marshall Brain started the site as a hobby. In 1999, Brain raised venture capital and formed HowStuffWorks, Inc. In March 2002, HowStuffWorks was sold to the Convex Group, an Atlanta-based investment and media company founded by Jeff Arnold, founder and former chief executive officer (CEO) of WebMD.[2] The headquarters moved from Cary, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia. HowStuffWorks originally focused on science and machines, ranging from submarines to common household gadgets and appliances. After adding a staff of writers, artists, and editors, content expanded to a larger array of topics.

In November 2004, HowStuffWorks moved its entertainment section to Stuffo.[3] However, in 2006, the team disbanded and the site now redirects visitors to the site's entertainment channel.[citation needed]

The domain HowStuffWorks.com attracted at least 58 million visitors annually by 2008, according to a Compete.com survey.[4]

There have been four HowStuffWorks books – two illustrated hardcover coffee table books called HowStuffWorks and More HowStuffWorks, and two un-illustrated paperbacks called How Much Does the Earth Weigh? and What If?. HowStuffWorks puts out an educational magazine called "HowStuffWorks Express" for middle school students. The company has also released a series of HowStuffWorks trivia "LidRock" discs – CD-ROMs sold on fountain drink lids at Regal Theaters.[citation needed]

Howstuffworks recently acquired Mobil Travel Guide and Consumer Guide.[citation needed]

Howstuffworks.com spun off its international division when they went public (Nasdaq:HSWI) via an acquisition of INTAC, a China-based company. In March 2007, HSW International launched its Portuguese website with headquarters in São Paulo, Brazil.[5] The Portuguese term for the site is Como Tudo Funciona, which means "how everything works". In June 2008, the Chinese site was launched with new headquarters placed in Beijing, China. The URL roughly translates to "Knowledge Information Web."[6]

On October 15, 2007, Discovery Communications announced it had bought HowStuffWorks for US$250 million.[7] The company later chose to use the name HowStuffWorks as the title of a television series on its Discovery Channel. The series, which focuses on commodities,[8] premiered in November 2008 and is similar in style and content to other "how it works" programs like Modern Marvels.[9]

On November 2, 2009, HSW International co-founded Sharecare, Inc., developing a social QA platform through which users ask health- and wellness-related questions, receiving answers from industry experts. Other co-founders in Sharecare include Jeff Arnold, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Harpo Productions, Discovery Communications and Sony Pictures Television.[10]

On April 21, 2014, Discovery Communications announced that they had sold HowStuffWorks to Blucora for $45 million.[11]

Podcasts[edit]

HowStuffWorks maintains several podcasts, hosted by its staff writers and editors.

  • Stuff You Should Know: various topics from all fields of interest, co-hosted by senior staff writers Josh Clark and Charles "Chuck" Bryant. In older episodes, editors Candace Keener and Chris Pollette co-hosted with Clark before Bryant became the permanent co-host. The podcast falls under the category of "Society and Culture". It was granted recognition as one of iTunes' Best of 2008 podcasts.[citation needed]
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class, originally called Fact or Fiction? History Stuff for the History Buff: important historical events originally hosted by Candace Keener and Josh Clark. He was replaced by Jane McGrath in November 2008, who in turn was replaced in June 2009 by Katie Lambert. In August 2009, Keener was replaced by Sarah Dowdey. In November 2011, Deblina Chakraborty replaced Lambert, Candace Keener guest co-hosting for three episodes between Lambert's departure and Chakraborty's arrival. In January 2013, Chakraborty left the podcast and was replaced by editor Holly Frey. In March 2013, Dowdey was replaced by Tracy Wilson.
  • TechStuff: dedicated to demystifying technology and discussing its impact on society, originally hosted by technology editor Chris Pollette and senior staff writer Jonathan Strickland. In January 2013 Chris Pollette was replaced as co-host by Social Media Editor Lauren Vogelbaum. Topics range from the history of tech companies (i.e. the recent RIM Podcast) to the way a piece of technology works (I.e. the recent podcast on Micro payments) to the way things work (recent iOS 5 podcast) to fictional tech ("The Tech Of Doctor Who").
  • Brainstuff: hosted by Marshall Brain, deals with natural sciences. Usually is a 5-10 minute podcast.
  • CarStuff (formerly High Speed Stuff): dealing with automotive topics and is hosted by editor Scott Benjamin and video writer Ben Bowlin.
  • Stuff Mom Never Told You: explores gender roles and highlights notable pioneering women, hosted by staff writers Caroline Ervin and Cristen Conger. Ervin replaced original host Molly Edmonds in in 2011.
  • Stuff of Genius: a short video format podcast that focuses on an inventor or innovator (i.e., genius) for each episode. The video features humorous animation with a voice over originally provided by site founder Marshall Brain with later episodes narrated by Jonathan Strickland.
  • The Coolest Stuff on the Planet: a video podcast that highlights a specific location and features geographic-specific facts and trivia.
  • Stuff They Don't Want You To Know: a video podcast that focuses on conspiracy theories and the evidence and arguments behind them.
  • Stuff To Blow Your Mind (formerly Stuff From the Science Lab): focuses on natural science. It is hosted by Robert Lamb, one of the site's senior writers, and Julie Douglas, a writer and editor.
  • Stuff To Make You Smarter: focusing mainly on general topics and their impact on the human body. Hosted by writers Rob and Chris.
  • Stuff From the B-Side: originally hosted by senior staff writer Charles "Chuck" Bryant and staff writer John Fuller and deals with music. Later episodes feature Mark Larson taking Charles Bryant's place as host. No new episodes have been released since December 2009.
  • PopStuff: An opinion based podcast, featuring Pop culture related topics, including televisions shows and movies. Hosted by Holly and Tracy.
  • Stuff for a Stylish Home: A podcast on home decor, DIY, and home style.

Blogs[edit]

There are also 10 blogs on the website, eight of which are extensions of one of HSW's podcasts.

  • Brainstuff: maintained Marshall Brain
  • Fanstuff: maintained by money editor Chanel Lee and site director Tracy V. Wilson
  • Car Stuff: maintained by auto editor Scott Benjamin
  • How-to Stuff: maintained by Jessika Toothman and Katherine Neer.[12]
  • Keep Asking: maintained by site founder Marshall Brain
  • Stuff From the Science Lab: maintained by green editor Sarah Dowdey, staff writer Robert Lamb, and senior editor Allison Loudermilk
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class: maintained by editor Sarah Dowdey
  • Stuff You Should Know: maintained by senior writers Charles "Chuck" Bryant and Josh Clark
  • TechStuff: maintained by tech editor Chris Pollette and senior writer Jonathan Strickland
  • The Coolest Stuff on the Planet: maintained by adventure editor Amanda Arnold

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]