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4chan, the infamous message board whose users once labelled it “the asshole of the Internet,” is nearly out of money and will have to take drastic action if it wants to survive, according to its new owner. Meanwhile, the notorious hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli has offered to help out.
The site, which hosts notoriously racist and sexist message boards, and which in the form of its /b/ board launched 1,000 unpleasant trolling campaigns, has long suffered money troubles, with users unwilling to subscribe and legitimate advertisers put off by unpalatable content.
Its founder, Christopher “Moot” Poole, sold up in January 2015 to Hiroyuki Nisimura, the man who founded the board that inspired 4chan, Japan’s almost equally unpleasant 2Channel.
In a post on Sunday, entitled “Winter is Coming,” Nisimura wrote that he “had tried to keep 4chan as is.
But I failed.
I am sincerely sorry.” He added:
Some notice there are no more middle ads and bottom ads on 4chan.
Ads don’t work well.
So we reduced advertisement servers cost.
4chan can’t afford infrastructure costs, network fee, servers cost, CDN and etc, now.
He went on to describe three options to cut costs, none of which is likely to impress the site’s fractious users.
To stay afloat, the site apparently would need to halve traffic costs by closing some boards, limiting image sizes, and using slower servers; or have more pop-up or even “malicious” ads; or have more paying users.
However, an unlikely saviour has seemingly emerged.
Shkreli—who erupted to notoriety of his own last year when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, acquired the manufacturing licence to the antiparasitic drug Daraprim and jacked its price up by 5,556 percent, from $13.5 to $750 per tablet (£10.60 to £588)—tweeted Nisimura to indicate that he would be “open to joining the Board of Directors of 4chan.”
Nisimura replied, and the two apparently took the discussions away from public view.
Shkreli is currently on bail, pending a trial over federal charges for alleged securities fraud, after his arrest by the FBI in December last year. He also recently offered people the chance to punch him in the face for $50,000 for charity, to support the young son of his former PR guy Mike Kulich, who passed away suddenly a few weeks ago.
It looks like 4chan still has a few allies in the tech world, despite its unpleasant reputation.
In a now-deleted but still-cached tweet, billionaire Minecraft founder Marcus “Notch” Persson apparently also expressed an interest in helping the site, writing: “Assuming it’s not too expensive, and assuming I don’t have to do any actual work myself, I’m in.”
Poole, meanwhile, has scored himself a job at Google, where he is “building online communities.”
This post originated on Ars Technica UK