Tweet me a 9GAG meme

YP cadet Candace Kwan

Five Hongkongers have brought user-generated fun under one big roof

YP cadet Candace Kwan |

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9GAG founders (from left) Marco Fung, Derek Chan, Brian Yu, Ray Chan and Chris Chan
You probably know 9GAG - thanks to the small grey taglines on funny and quirky photos you have seen shared and re-shared on social media sites. Why, you may have even shared some of the site's content yourself.

9GAG is an up-and-coming phenomenon in social media - a generator of fun stuff like rage comics and internet memes. That's no accident. The very name 9GAG is "related to the [Cantonese] term gao gag, which means making fun/joke". Then again, the term "may not mean anything to non-Chinese speakers".

That helpful info is courtesy of Ray Chan Chin-ching, one of the site's five founders. But even if you speak Cantonese, what you may not know is that all the founders are Hongkongers. Yes, 9GAG is a Hong Kong-based company - and one that was launched almost on a whim.

But what started as a side project in 2008 has since turned into an entertainment platform with more than 4.5 million fans on Facebook and 1.2 million followers on Twitter. That's not counting the people who re-share its contents.

Of the four other founders, Chris Chan Chin-chun is Ray Chan's younger brother; Derek Chan Siu-yan was a classmate of a friend at the University of Hong Kong (HKU); and Marco Fung Chak-fai and Brian Yu Tsz-lui were colleagues at a company Ray Chan had worked for.

9GAG was something they all stumbled into. They received funding in 2011 from 500 Startups, an accelerator programme in Silicon Valley, California. Their venture has quickly joined the ranks of other image-sharing websites such as Reddit, 4Chan and Tumblr.

9GAG is similar to these other sites with a focus on user-generated content, an ever-growing following and a propensity for sharing. But the founders insist 9GAG has a unique feature: "9GAG is very different from 4Chan or Reddit [as] both of them cover different topics, while 9GAG only focuses on fun and interesting content."

Internet memes (pronounced "meemz") are all the rage these days. Ray Chan defines them as "simple yet visualised expressions [that] represent a feeling [which] resonates with us [and] makes us want to share it with others".

And 9GAG has plenty of them. That explains why content from the site is ever present on Facebook - shared and re-shared among users.

9GAG's often-changing interface keeps drawing users back to the site with novelties. It's changed regularly "to provide the best experience for our users."

"For example," Ray Chan explains, "we make it easier to share a post; we make it easier to explore other fun content."

He is cautious about the success of 9GAG, but acknowledges that "we've had a good start".

But for many users 9GAG isn't just a website: it's an entertainment platform.

And the best part is that the five Hong Kong boys embody the spirit of the site's tagline: It's all "just for fun".