The Oatmeal logo.
Type of site
|Created by||Matthew Inman|
|Launched||July 6, 2009|
|Revenue||Approx. $500,000 annually|
|3,115 (September 2014[update])|
The Oatmeal is a humor website created in 2009 by cartoonist Matthew Inman (born September 24, 1982). Inman, who lives in Seattle, Washington, updates his site with original comics, quizzes, and occasional articles.
In 2010, the Oatmeal got more than four million unique visitors a month. As of 2012[update], its annual revenue was around $500,000; three-fourths of that was from merchandising and the rest was from advertising.
The information found in the Oatmeal’s comics is researched by Inman. One comic typically takes Inman seven to eight working hours spread across three days. The comics cover an eclectic range of topics, including zombies, cats, horse care, internet and English grammar, with titles such as "What it's like to own an Apple product", "What your e-mail address says about your computer skills", "How the male angler fish gets completely screwed", "8 websites you need to stop building", "How to name a volcano", "15-ish things worth knowing about coffee" and "How a web design goes straight to hell."  In "The State of the Web (Winter 2010)", Inman created the Tumbeasts as a reaction to Tumblr's regular downtimes, as a parody of the Twitter Fail Whale, and urged Tumblr to use them, which they did for a short time.
When thinking of a subject to write about for the website, Inman picks something that he is interested in and writes about it. He usually works at home. But as he finds it difficult to do over long periods, because of the lack of social contact, he often goes to a coffee shop to work. Inman finds that it is much easier to gain exposure for his work with the web than it would have been 20 years ago. He enjoys making people laugh at his work. And although he notes that he cannot actually see the reaction of others to his work, he still appreciates seeing the high number of page views that his website receives.
Inman is funded by the sale of informational wall posters, greeting cards, calendars, clothing, coffee cups, signed prints, stickers, magnets, and badges, which yield a yearly profit of about $400,000 per year. However, he also sells other merchandise, including books.
The Oatmeal’s first book, 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (and Other Useful Guides), was published by Andrews McMeel Publishing. The book was made available in the United States on March 1, 2011, in the UK on March 17, 2011, and worldwide in early May 2011. It features many of Inman's handwritten comics like “Party Gorilla”, plus 27 never-before-seen comics like “8 Very Good Reasons To Keep A Canadian As A Pet”. The book also features a large pull-out poster that is 6 by 4 ft (1.8 by 1.2 m).
His second book, How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You, launched on 9 October 2012 in paperback on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. My Dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse about Man's Best Friend was published in hardcover on 7 May 2013. Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants was published on 1 October 2013, also through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and IndieBound.
In November 2013, Inman began a four-month sabbatical to write his fifth book, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons I Run Long Distances, only creating four blog posts during this time. In March 2014, he announced the book’s September 30 release date and has organized a “Beat the Blerch” (a 10-kilometer, half, and full marathon), which was held in Carnation, Washington, on September 20 and 21, 2014. All 2,000 spots originally offered for the first race day were sold out in 20 minutes, prompting Inman to open a second day for more runners to enroll. He is currently planning to expand "Beat the Blerch" to other cities and states.
In January 2015, Inman, in collaboration with Elan Lee and Shane Small, launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for their project Exploding Kittens, a card-based, Russian roulette-style game. The campaign raised $1 million in its first seven hours, and $2 million in 24 hours, surpassing its original goal of $10,000. After 48 hours, it became the number one most-funded card game on Kickstarter, and the twenty-second most funded campaign overall. 
Tesla Museum fundraiser
In August 2012, the Oatmeal launched a fundraising campaign on the Indiegogo crowd funding website to raise $1.7 million for the nonprofit organization Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in order to purchase the Wardenclyffe Tower property in Shoreham on Long Island, New York – about 60 miles from Manhattan – due to concerns about an apparent offer to purchase the site and develop it for commercial use. The goal was to raise at least $850,000 to buy the property and restore the facility with the hope of eventually building a museum on the grounds in honor of the man who built Wardenclyffe, the Serbian-American electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla. The state of New York agreed to match donations up to half that amount if the fundraiser was able to raise $850,000. On August 21, a donation from Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors, raised the total to $792,000. Later, on the same day, the goal of $850,000 was reached – in just over six days.
A day later, the fundraising group exceeded its target after a $33,333 donation from the producers of the Tesla film Fragments From Olympus-The Vision of Nikola Tesla put the total amount raised at $873,169. Donors continued to contribute after the goal was reached, donating over $1 million over nine days. Including New York’s matching grant, the crowd funding campaign raised approximately $1.7 million in six days, with the campaign originally slated to run 45 days. Ultimately, the campaign (plus the New York grant) totaled over $2.1 million. Inman features in Tower to the People the 2015 documentary on Wardenclyffe by the same director of "Fragments from Olympus".
The additional funds will be used to fund the cleaning and restoration of the property, with the goal to build a museum on the grounds. Volunteers have begun work on the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, and recently unveiled a monument to Tesla.
On 13 May 2014, the Oatmeal authored a comic entitled “What it's like to own a Tesla Model S - A cartoonist's review of his magical space car,” followed by a follow-up comic entitled "Part Two: Man Vs. Motor" in which he talked about Nikola Tesla, and Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla Motors. After publishing the comic, he tweeted Elon, saying, “@elonmusk I wrote a review of my Model S, and then asked you for a little favor here http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla_model_s ...”, inviting Elon to donate to the Tesla Museum. At 2 A.M. the following day, Elon responded by tweet: “I would be happy to help”.
According to a later blog post by Inman, Musk called him up and pledged two things — a Tesla supercharger would be built just outside the museum, making the museum a part of his nationwide Tesla recharging network; and a million dollars for the development/construction of the museum.
FunnyJunk legal dispute
The Oatmeal has alleged that users on FunnyJunk, a content aggregator website, repeatedly infringed The Oatmeal’s original content. FunnyJunk alleged these accusations are defamation and demanded US $20,000 in damages. Inman responded by setting up a $20,000 Indiegogo fundraiser for a charity called “Operation BearLove Good, Cancer Bad”. Inman named National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society as beneficiaries  and had raised $220,024 at completion. He stated he intended to take a photo of himself with the cash, then send the photograph along with a satirical illustration of FunnyJunk’s mother “seducing a Kodiak bear” to FunnyJunk.
FunnyJunk’s lawyer, Charles Carreon, attempted to shut the campaign down, alleging it violates Indiegogo's terms and conditions. Carreon also filed a pro se lawsuit Carreon v. Inman et al in United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Inman, Indiegogo, the American Cancer Society, and the National Wildlife Federation in response. On July 3, 2012, Carreon filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in his lawsuit against all parties without prejudice.
Oatmeal Studios trademark suit
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We just passed one million dollars. Now what?
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What it's like to own a Tesla Model S - A cartoonist's review of his magical space car - The Oatmeal
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Man Vs. Motor
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So, I had a call with Elon Musk earlier this week ...
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- Can I Sue You People? Troll Lawyer Sues The Charities The Oatmeal Supports Accessed:June 18, 2012
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- Carreon, Charles. "Charles Carreon v. Indiegogo, NWF, ACS" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-08-13.
- Electronic Frontier Foundation (July 3, 2012). Charles Carreon Drops Bogus Lawsuit Against The Oatmeal Creator.
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- Wednesday, November 21st, 2012 (2012-11-21). "Oatmeal Studios Responds To The Oatmeal Lawsuit: "We Are Simply Trying To Protect Our Name"". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-11-26.
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