Type of site
|Owner||E. W. Scripps Company|
|Slogan(s)||America's Only Humor Site Since 1958|
|Alexa rank||1,137 (August 2016)|
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 owned by E. W. Scripps. It is descended from Cracked magazine, which dates back to 1958.
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.
On April 12, 2016, it was purchased by the E. W. Scripps Company for $39 million.
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 Jack 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 (under his 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 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. 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 Former General Manager Oren Katzeff, "Nothing gets on the homepage without heavy editing"; [writers] "pitch the site’s on-staff editorial team, who give out assignments 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 had 22 web series 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".
Long-running and ongoing series
- "Agents of Cracked" - Michael Swaim and Daniel O'Brien portray fictionalized versions of themselves and their bizzare experiences while writing for Cracked. (November 2009 – July 2011)
- "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 discuss a pop culture issue. (April 2012 – January 2016)
- "Obsessive Pop Culture Disorder" – Daniel O'Brien, sitting at a desk in a studio, rants about pop culture issues. (August 2012–present)
- "Does Not Compute" – Michael Swaim shows strange videos found on the internet based on a different theme in each episode. (May 2010 – June 2015)
- "Stuff That Must Have Happened" – Sketches purporting to show the true origin of events. (April 2010–present)
- "Honest Commercials" - Jack Hunter portrays Roger Horton, a bussinessman who promotes products of his various companies with brutal honesty. (September 2012-present)
- "The Spit Take" – Jack O'Brien addresses some theme, usually illustrated with video clips. (November 2013 – present)
- "Escort Mission" - Two roommates, a hardcore gamer (L33T) and a casual gamer (N00B) discuss modern video games and the unexpected implications of their worlds. (February 2014-present)
- "New Guy Weekly" - Alex Schmidt, then a newcomer on Cracked, demonstrates his extreme work ineptitude while filming himself on the phone for his video blog. (September 2014 - June 2015)
- "Cracked Responds" - Cracked staff members share their reactions to a recent topic, such as movie trailers or politics. (January 2015-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)
- "Marvels of the Science" – A parody of nature documentary films featuring Cody Johnston as Prof. Scott Bug who is totally clueless about things he is talking about. (August 2012 - March 2014)
- "8-Bits" – Sketches parodying life as depicted in video games. (October 2012 - June 2013)
- "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 – February 2014)
- "Adventures in Jedi Scool" - A Star Wars parody focused on the Jedi. (January 2014)
- "Rom.Com" - Employees of an online dating website company deal with various workplace situations. (March 2014 - March 2016)
- "Welcome Back Potter" - A parody of the Harry Potter franchise. (April 2014 - May 2014)
- "Antiheroes" - A parody of a superhero origin story. (August 2014)
- "Starship Icarus" - A parody of Star Trek from the viewpoint of the lower-deck crew. (October 2014)
- "The Stumbling Dead" - A parody of the television series The Walking Dead from the zombies point of view. (October 2015)
- "We're Not Alone" - A parody of science fiction movies about the first contact with alien life. (May 2016 - June 2016)
- "Galactic War Room" - Another Star Wars parody, this time focused on the Rebel Alliance. (November 2016)
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 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 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 Daniel O'Brien and Michael 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.
- 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
- "Cracked.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
- Kung, Michelle. Cracked.com Grows Up. Wall Street Journal. August 1, 2011.
- Demand Media Wins Two People's Voice Webby Awards. Reuters.. May 1, 2012.
- Osburn, Paige. The (prat)fall of Cracked Magazine-- and the rise of Cracked.com. 89.3 KPCC. April 12, 2012.
- Shields, Mike. Demand Media’s Unlikely Success Story. Digiday. October 14, 2011.
- Axon, Samuel. Streamy Awards 2010: Here Are the Winners. Mashable. April 11, 2010.
- Cracked.com Launches First-of-Its-Kind Application for iPad. News Blaze. July 26, 2010.
- America's Only Humor Site Since 1958. Demand Media.
- "Newswatch: Cracked Purchased by Mideast Group," The Comics Journal #267 (Apr./May 2005), p. 45.
- "Mike Durrett: Online content".
- O’Brien, Jack. Cracked.com: 'You Might Be A Zombie,' And 7 Other Pieces Of Bad News (PHOTOS). Huffington Post. February 10, 2011.
- Abraham, Josh. Jack O'Brien, Cracked.com. Gothamist. October 12, 2005.
- [Exclusive] Cracked’s EIC Jack O’Brien Talks to Inquisitr About ‘Top 8 of Everything’ 2011 List. The Inquisitr. December 21, 2011.
- "Cracked.com". Demand Media. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Cracked.com Editor says 'You Might Be A Zombie!" (Interview). YouTube. January 18, 2011.
- Leckart, Steven. Why Numbered Lists Are Comedy Gold. Wired. May 31, 2011.
- Weinroth, Adam. Interview with a Zombie: Oren Katzeff of Cracked.com Archived May 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.. Demand Media. December 28, 2010.
- Tricking People into Reading Again. SXSW.
- Humphrey, Michael. Cracked Writers' Room: Jack O'Brien Describes How To Crowdsource Laughs. Forbes. October 19, 2011.
- Jack O'Brien. Huffington Post.
- Cracked.com for iPad. iTunes.
- Cracked.com on iPad: A Deep Dive with Oren Katzeff. MobilizedTV.
- 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.
- "EXCLUSIVE: How Comedian Daniel O'Brien Turned One Joke Into A Major Book Deal". Forbes.com. 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
- Gould, Wendy Rose (October 26, 2010). "'Agents of Cracked' Infiltrating the Interwebs One Video at a Time". asylum.com. Archived from the original on October 30, 2010. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
- 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.
- Videos. Cracked.com.
- Holiday, Ryan. EXCLUSIVE: How Comedian Daniel O'Brien Turned One Joke Into A Major Book Deal. Forbes. April 16, 2012.
- Cracked.com Launches ‘Cheat Sheets,’ a Bite-sized Guide to Movies and More. Demand Media. April 29, 2011.
- Ratatouille (2007). Cheat Sheets.
- Wong, David. "Cracked Book – You Might Be a Zombie and Other Bad News". Cracked.com. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Trivett, Ben. Cracked.com Editors Talk New 'You Might Be a Zombie' Book, Lame Reality TV Stars. PopEater. December 27, 2010.
- Schuessler, Jennifer. "Hardcover". The New York Times.
- Widman, Sam (2013-10-29). "Cracked wants to educate you with the De-Textbook". Nerdophiles. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
- CRACKED Live at SXSW. Cracked.com.
- Cracked.com Live at South By South West (Streaming). Cracked.com. March 12, 2011.
- LeMoyne, R.B. Comikaze Expo Presents Cracked.com’s “After Hours” LIVE! ComicBooked.com.
- How Cracked Cracked the Comedy Code: A How To. Wired Insider. June 16, 2011.
- 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.