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|Slogan||America's Only Humor Site Since 1958|
Type of site
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Cracked.com is a humor website, with over 300 million monthly page views. The site was founded in 2005 by Jack O’Brien and is currently a property under Demand Media. It grew in prominence after merging with another popular humor website, Pointless Waste of Time.
Cracked was founded as a magazine in 1958. In early 2005, then Cracked owner Dick Kulpa sold the magazine to a group of investors who announced plans to revive a print version of Cracked with a new editorial focus and redesign.
In October 2005, Cracked.com launched as a separate website under editor-in-chief Jack O’Brien, a former ABC News producer. Although the magazine folded soon after launch, the Cracked website gained popularity and was purchased by Demand Media in June 2007, setting off Cracked’s rapid growth period.
In 2007, Cracked had a few hundred thousand unique users per month and 3 to 4 million page views. The site fit well within Demand Media’s network, with O’Brien noting “They understand the web, and they made us nail down a voice.” The editorial staff includes original editor-in-chief Jack O’Brien, Jason Pargin (pen name, David Wong), who was added as an associate editor later in 2006, and Oren Katzeff who became Cracked.com's General Manager in November 2007 after running business development for Yahoo Media Group. Cracked.com publishes 2–4 articles daily (2,000 – 3,000 words each), along with video content, short-form content, and contests. The feature articles are the most popular, usually pulling in around 1 million views in their first week.
In 2010, Cracked.com made an iPad app available. The app allows users to browse Cracked’s articles, videos, and contests on the iPad. The app’s landing page looks similar to Cracked’s break room, with a soda machine, bar stools and a table.
Cracked.com’s traffic has doubled each year, making it one of Demand Media’s most successful properties. In 2010, Cracked drew over 1 billion page views. By 2012, Cracked.com received 300,000,000 page views per month and 7.3 million unique monthly users, making it the most visited humor site in the world, ahead of The Onion, CollegeHumor, and Funny or Die.
The Cracked site also includes a blog, videos, forums, a writer's workshop, five weekly Image Manipulation contests called Photoplasty, and small, one-shot articles called "Quick Fixes." Cracked formerly included a daily "Craptions" contest where users added captions to odd photographs; this feature has been relegated to the forums. The site includes columns by Sean "Seanbaby" Reiley, Daniel O'Brien, Robert Brockway, Cody Johnston, Soren Bowie, Chris Bucholz, host and writer of the web series Hate by Numbers Gladstone, John Cheese, Christina Hsu, and head writer and performer of the sketch comedy group "Those Aren't Muskets!" Michael Swaim.
Although Cracked is owned by Demand Media, it is not considered a content farm. Instead, the site functions as a “virtual writer’s room”, where more than 2,500 amateurs pitch articles to which other users provide feedback. According to General Manager Oren Katzeff, "Nothing gets on the homepage without heavy editing," [writers] "pitch the site’s on-staff editorial team, who give out assignment and feedback to writers after an idea is greenlit." O’Brien and five other editors pick and refine the best material. More than 90% of the stories on the top spot of Cracked’s homepage come from the virtual writer’s room. Cracked is known for its popular listicles, which include titles like "The 6 Most Insane People To Ever Run For President” and "7 Basic Things You Won't Believe You're All Doing Wrong".
About 30% of Cracked’s content is video. As of October 2014, Cracked currently has 22 web series that are exclusive to their site. In 2009, Cracked debuted the web series "Agents of Cracked," which generated 20 million views over three seasons. In July 2010, Cracked debuted "After Hours," a video-debate version of Cracked’s lists which features four Cracked staffers discussing topics such as "Why Batman Is Secretly Terrible for Gotham" and "Why ‘Star Wars’ Is Secretly Terrifying for Women." The show has generated over 15 million views. Other shows include “Stuff that Must Have Happened” and “The Katie Willert Experience.”
- "After Hours" – Soren Bowie, Daniel O'Brien, Michael Swaim, and Katie Willert share a meal at a diner (at first, the Village Grille, and later, the Los Feliz Café) and discuss a pop culture issue. (July 2010–present)
- "Today's Topic" – Two staff members sitting in adjoining office cubicles (usually Michael Swaim and another staffer) discuss a pop culture issue. (April 2012-present)
- "Obsessive Pop Culture Disorder" – Daniel O'Brien, sitting at a desk in a studio, rants about pop culture issues. (August 2012–present)
- "8-Bits" – Sketches parodying life as depicted in video games. (October 2012 - June 2013)
- "Marvels of the Science" – A parody of science documentary films featuring Cody Johnston as Prof. Scott Bug with an obviously fake British accent.
- "Dispatches from Goddamn Space" – Soren Bowie plays an astronaut (undergoing a criminal investigation) stationed on the International Space Station giving lectures full of misinformation to elementary school students watching from classrooms on Earth's surface. (September 2013–present)
- "Does Not Compute" – Michael Swaim shows strange videos found on the internet based on a different theme in each episode. (May 2010-present)
- "Katie Willert Experience" – A sketch comedy series featuring Katie Willert. (August 2011 – September 2012)
- "The Start-Up" – Michael Swaim, Cody Johnston, and Katy Stoll as three people working from home who meet through teleconference to discuss their new start-up company (November 2011 – October 2013).
- "Stuff That Must Have Happened" – Sketches purporting to show the true origin of events. (April 2010–present)
- "The Spit Take" – Jack O'Brien addresses some theme, usually illustrated with video clips. (Jan 2014–present)
In 2011, Cracked partnered with Rotten Tomatoes and Movieclips to launch Cheat Sheets, a comedic, user-generated guide to popular movies. For example, Ratatouille’s description reads "Remy the rat is obsessed with good food, and he has learned to cook by watching television in the same way that Jackie Chan fans have all become Kung-Fu masters. Remy stumbles upon an unsuspecting janitor working in a Parisian restaurant and figures out how to tap into his central nervous system, controlling his every movement."
Cracked.com released its first book, You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News, in 2010. Published by the Penguin Group's Plume division, the book features 20 articles that had previously appeared on the website, and 18 that are new to the book. The book is formatted as a comedy trivia book, and includes chapters like the 'The Four Most Badass Presidents of All Time' and 'The Awful Truth Behind Five Items on Your Grocery List.'
It reached #9 on the The New York Times' secondary "Paperback Advice & Misc." best sellers list, and sold more than 40,000 copies. As part of the marketing campaign, Cracked encouraged fans to post pictures of themselves alongside the book with 50-word captions.
Crown Publishing Group acquired the rights to Cracked writer Daniel O’Brien’s How to Fight Presidents, for more than $60,000. The book will be a comedic look at the secret to fighting and defeating every U.S. President in history.
Cracked.com has released its second book, The De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn't Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew, on October 29, 2013.
Cracked has also expanded into live shows. At the 2011 SXSW festival, Cracked hosted Cracked Live, which featured live performances from Michael Swaim, Soren Bowie, Daniel O’Brien, Katie Willert, and Cody Johnston. In November 2011, Cracked hosted three panels at Comikaze Expo, a multi-media, popular culture convention. They hosted the “The Making of ‘After Hours:’ How a Conversation Becomes an Episode”, “Comedy Troupes Are the New Rock Stars”, and a performance of the sketch comedy showcase “Cracked LIVE: The 6 Most Bafflingly Hilarious Things Happening in Front of You (Right Now)!”
The magazine Wired has called Cracked "addictive," "hauntingly funny" and "terrifyingly well-informed." Mother Jones called Cracked.com “one of the hottest humor sites on the web” and said its content includes, “some of the most uproarious and sage commentary on the interwebs.” describing it as “striking the right balance of pop culture, bawdy humor, and intellect.” In one month, Cracked users spent over 255 million minutes on the site, which is 5 times more than Comedy Central’s site and 9 times more than Funny or Die.
In 2010, the web series Agents of Cracked featuring O'Brien and Swaim won the Audience Choice Award at the second annual Streamy Awards. In 2012, Cracked received a People’s Choice Webby Award for Best Humor Website.
- Daniel O'Brien
- Soren Bowie
- Robert Brockway
- Chris Bucholz
- Wayne Gladstone (Gladstone)
- Michael Swaim
- Sean Patrick Reiley (Seanbaby)
- Cody Johnston
- Christina H.
- David Wong
- Jack O'Brien
- John Cheese
- Brendan McGinley
- Adam Tod Brown
- Ian Fortey
- Kristi Harrison
- Felix Clay
- Cyriaque Lamar
- Winston Rowntree
- Tom Reimann
- Luke McKinney
- Josh F. Sargent
- Robert Evans
- Luis Prada
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- Cracked.com for iPad. iTunes.
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- Pham, Alex. Demand Media posts $6.4-million loss in fourth quarter. Los Angeles Times. February 17, 2012.
- Merino, Faith. Cracked.com launches hilarious movie guide. VatorNews. April 29, 2011.
- Kerner, Lou. Demand Media Will Be The First $1 Billion Tech IPO Since Google – Here's Why. Business Insider. April 20, 2010.
- Demand Media Reports Fourth Quarter And Fiscal 2010 Financial Results. The Street. February 22, 2011.
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- Videos. Cracked.com.
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- Sheppard, Kate (July–August 2013). "Cats, boobs, incisive commentary". Mother Jones (Foundation for National Progress). p. 60. ISSN 0362-8841.
How a flailing adolescent magazine became one of the hottest humor sites on the web.