Type of site
Entertainment website
Owner E. W. Scripps Company
Slogan(s) America's Only Humor Site Since 1958
Alexa rank Decrease 1,137 (August 2016)[1]
Launched November 2005 (2005-11)
Current status Active is a humor website with over 300 million monthly page views.[2][3][4][5] The site was founded in 2005 by Jack O’Brien and is currently owned by E. W. Scripps.[3][6] It is descended from Cracked magazine, which dates back to 1958.



Cracked was founded as a magazine in 1958.[7][8] 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.[9]

In October 2005, launched as a separate website under editor-in-chief Jack O'Brien, a former ABC News producer.[10][11][12][13] 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.[4][14][15]

On April 12, 2016, it was purchased by the E. W. Scripps Company for $39 million.[16]

In 2007, Cracked had a few hundred thousand unique users per month and 3 to 4 million page views.[4] The site fit well within Demand Media’s network, with Jack O’Brien noting “They understand the web, and they made us nail down a voice”.[17] The editorial staff includes original editor-in-chief Jack O’Brien, Jason Pargin (under his pen name, David Wong), who was added as an associate editor later in 2006, and Oren Katzeff who became's General Manager in November 2007 after running business development for Yahoo Media Group.[2][18] 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.[19][20]

In 2010, made an iPad app available.[21][22] The app allows users to browse Cracked’s articles, videos, and contests on the iPad.[23] The app’s landing page looks similar to Cracked’s break room, with a soda machine, bar stools and a table.[7][23]’s traffic has doubled each year, making it one of Demand Media’s most successful properties.[24] In 2010, Cracked drew over 1 billion page views.[25][26][27] By 2012, 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.[4][5][17]

Writer Daniel O'Brien was questioned by the FBI and Secret Service after writing an article titled "How to Kidnap the President's Daughter".[28][29]

In November 2013, the Cracked web site was hacked and was unwittingly delivering malware to site visitors. The hackers injected javascript that caused malicious software to be distributed to page viewers.[30]


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 Wayne 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 E.W. Scripps, it is not considered a content farm.[21] Instead, the site functions as a “virtual writer’s room”, where more than 2,500 amateurs pitch articles to which other users provide feedback.[21] According to Former General Manager Oren Katzeff, "Nothing gets on the homepage without heavy editing";[2] [writers] "pitch the site’s on-staff editorial team, who give out assignments and feedback to writers after an idea is greenlit".[2] O’Brien and five other editors pick and refine the best material.[17] More than 90% of the stories on the top spot of Cracked’s homepage come from the virtual writer’s room.[17] 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".[5]

Web series

About 30% of Cracked’s content is video.[23][31] As of October 2014, Cracked had 22 web series exclusive to their site.[32] In 2009, Cracked debuted the web series "Agents of Cracked" which generated 20 million views over three seasons.[33] 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".[5]

Long-running and ongoing series

Limites series

Cheat Sheets

In 2011, Cracked partnered with Rotten Tomatoes and Movieclips to launch Cheat Sheets, a comedic, user-generated guide to popular movies.[25][34] 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".[35]

Books released its first book, You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News, in 2010.[36] 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.[11] 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'.[37]

It reached #9 on The New York Times secondary "Paperback Advice & Misc." best sellers list, and sold more than 40,000 copies.[33][38] As part of the marketing campaign, Cracked encouraged fans to post pictures of themselves alongside the book with 50-word captions.[5][18]

Crown Publishing Group acquired the rights to Cracked writer Daniel O’Brien’s How to Fight Presidents, for more than $60,000.[33] The book will be a comedic look at the secret to fighting and defeating every U.S. President in history.[33] 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.[39]

Live shows

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.[40][41] In November 2011, Cracked hosted three panels at Comikaze Expo, a multi-media, popular culture convention.[42] 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)!”.[42]


The magazine Wired has called Cracked "addictive", "hauntingly funny" and "terrifyingly well-informed".[43] Mother Jones called “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”.[44] 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.[5]

In 2010, the web series Agents of Cracked, featuring Daniel O'Brien and Michael Swaim, won the Audience Choice Award at the second annual Streamy Awards.[6] In 2012, Cracked received a People’s Choice Webby Award for Best Humor Website.[3]

  • Soren Bowie
  • Robert Brockway
  • Adam Tod Brown
  • Chris Bucholz
  • John Cheese
  • Felix Clay
  • Jacopo della Quercia
  • Robert Evans
  • Ian Fortey
  • Wayne Gladstone (Gladstone)
  • Christina H.
  • Kristi Harrison
  • Cody Johnston
  • Cyriaque Lamar
  • Brendan McGinley
  • Luke McKinney
  • Jack O'Brien
  • Daniel O'Brien
  • Pauli Poisuo
  • Sean Patrick Reiley (Seanbaby)
  • Tom Reimann
  • Winston Rowntree
  • Josh F. Sargent
  • David Christopher Bell
  • Alex Schmidt
  • Michael Swaim
  • David Wong


  1. " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Kung, Michelle. Grows Up. Wall Street Journal. August 1, 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 Demand Media Wins Two People's Voice Webby Awards. Reuters.. May 1, 2012.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Osburn, Paige. The (prat)fall of Cracked Magazine-- and the rise of 89.3 KPCC. April 12, 2012.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Shields, Mike. Demand Media’s Unlikely Success Story. Digiday. October 14, 2011.
  6. 1 2 Axon, Samuel. Streamy Awards 2010: Here Are the Winners. Mashable. April 11, 2010.
  7. 1 2 Launches First-of-Its-Kind Application for iPad. News Blaze. July 26, 2010.
  8. America's Only Humor Site Since 1958. Demand Media.
  9. "Newswatch: Cracked Purchased by Mideast Group," The Comics Journal #267 (Apr./May 2005), p. 45.
  10. "Mike Durrett: Online content".
  11. 1 2 O’Brien, Jack. 'You Might Be A Zombie,' And 7 Other Pieces Of Bad News (PHOTOS). Huffington Post. February 10, 2011.
  12. Abraham, Josh. Jack O'Brien, Gothamist. October 12, 2005.
  13. [Exclusive] Cracked’s EIC Jack O’Brien Talks to Inquisitr About ‘Top 8 of Everything’ 2011 List. The Inquisitr. December 21, 2011.
  14. "". Demand Media. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  15. Editor says 'You Might Be A Zombie!" (Interview). YouTube. January 18, 2011.
  17. 1 2 3 4 Leckart, Steven. Why Numbered Lists Are Comedy Gold. Wired. May 31, 2011.
  18. 1 2 Weinroth, Adam. Interview with a Zombie: Oren Katzeff of Archived May 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.. Demand Media. December 28, 2010.
  19. Tricking People into Reading Again. SXSW.
  20. Humphrey, Michael. Cracked Writers' Room: Jack O'Brien Describes How To Crowdsource Laughs. Forbes. October 19, 2011.
  21. 1 2 3 Jack O'Brien. Huffington Post.
  22. for iPad. iTunes.
  23. 1 2 3 on iPad: A Deep Dive with Oren Katzeff. MobilizedTV.
  24. Pham, Alex. Demand Media posts $6.4-million loss in fourth quarter. Los Angeles Times. February 17, 2012.
  25. 1 2 Merino, Faith. launches hilarious movie guide. VatorNews. April 29, 2011.
  26. Kerner, Lou. Demand Media Will Be The First $1 Billion Tech IPO Since Google – Here's Why. Business Insider. April 20, 2010.
  27. Demand Media Reports Fourth Quarter And Fiscal 2010 Financial Results. The Street. February 22, 2011.
  28. "EXCLUSIVE: How Comedian Daniel O'Brien Turned One Joke Into A Major Book Deal". 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
  29. Gould, Wendy Rose (October 26, 2010). "'Agents of Cracked' Infiltrating the Interwebs One Video at a Time". Archived from the original on October 30, 2010. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  31. Smith, Steve. About 70% is considered to be main articles, "quick fixes", and the topics tabs. Demand Media Looking to Become More Than It's 'Cracked' Up to Be. MediaPost. May 5, 2011.
  32. Videos.
  33. 1 2 3 4 Holiday, Ryan. EXCLUSIVE: How Comedian Daniel O'Brien Turned One Joke Into A Major Book Deal. Forbes. April 16, 2012.
  34. Launches ‘Cheat Sheets,’ a Bite-sized Guide to Movies and More. Demand Media. April 29, 2011.
  35. Ratatouille (2007). Cheat Sheets.
  36. Wong, David. "Cracked Book – You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News". Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  37. Trivett, Ben. Editors Talk New 'You Might Be a Zombie' Book, Lame Reality TV Stars. PopEater. December 27, 2010.
  38. Schuessler, Jennifer. "Hardcover". The New York Times.
  39. Widman, Sam (2013-10-29). "Cracked wants to educate you with the De-Textbook". Nerdophiles. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  40. CRACKED Live at SXSW.
  41. Live at South By South West (Streaming). March 12, 2011.
  42. 1 2 LeMoyne, R.B. Comikaze Expo Presents’s “After Hours” LIVE!
  43. How Cracked Cracked the Comedy Code: A How To. Wired Insider. June 16, 2011.
  44. 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.
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