Milo Yiannopoulos is making a bid to buy 4chan, with the Breitbart editor and Donald Trump surrogate publicly feeling out whether to acquire the popular image-sharing board in a move that could potentially save it from extinction.
Yiannopoulos is working with an unnamed “wealthy financier” and planning to approach 4chan owner Hiroyuki Nishimura with a purchase offer, the Hollywood Reporter noted. The site, which is split into different boards for topics ranging from video games to politics, is perhaps best known for the notorious anything goes /b/ board, which has been the center of a number of controversies.
In speaking to the Hollywood Reporter on Saturday, Milo Yiannopoulos confirmed that he was making a bid to buy 4chan even though he hasn’t always been the most popular figure on its political board, known as /pol/.
“As a free-speech fundamentalist and a student of Internet culture, I appreciate how fragile and precious the 4chan ecosystem is and how much it gives to the wider Internet — even if some corners of it, such as /pol/, don’t always approve of me very much,” Yiannopoulos said.
Milo Yiannopoulos himself has attracted controversy for his courting of the alt-right, a political movement that has been accused of openly embracing racism. Yiannopoulos has become one of the central figures of the movement, helping merge it with Donald Trump’s campaign for president as one of Trump’s web-based surrogates. Yiannopoulos has promoted Trump online, and even serves as an honorary moderator for Reddit’s board, The_Donald.
Milo’s bid to buy 4chan comes as the site has run into some very tough times. Because of the controversial nature of the boards combined with the user penchant for posting often graphic images, advertising has always been a struggle. Lately it appears to have dried up.
Last week, Nishimura wrote a post telling users that the site was essentially failing.
“Thank you for thinking about 4chan,” he wrote. “We had tried to keep 4chan as is. But I failed. I am sincerely sorry.”
He went on to say that the site would need to explore some drastic options, including adding more aggressive pop-up ads or closing some boards.
As engadget noted, 4chan’s failures have been a long time in the making.
“Since its inception in 2002, 4chan’s anonymous, no-limits conversations gained it a notorious reputation that definitely scared away advertising revenue. In 2007, it was banned from Google’s ad network AdSense for violating its appropriate content policy. It had kept afloat during its early years thanks to ads from anime purveyor J-List, according to Mashable, but that agreement ceased in 2012. It doesn’t help that its community uses adblockers far above the normal rate.”
Yiannopoulos said his bid to buy 4chan will be coming in the next week.
“I spoke to my lawyer this morning about purchasing the business,” said Yiannopoulos. “I intend to approach the current owners in the next few days with an offer. My philosophy as owner would be very simple: free-speech central, no ifs, no buts.”
And Milo may not be the only controversial figure in the running to buy 4chan. As CNN Money noted, reviled pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli is also considering a deal to buy the site.
“While 4chan’s future is far from clear, there is one person interested in ensuring the site stays around: Martin Shkreli. The former pharmaceutical exec who’s facing criminal charges expressed interest in making sure the site doesn’t die. Nisimura confirmed to CNNMoney that he and Shkreli are talking.”
It was not clear what kind of offer Milo Yiannopoulos could make to buy 4chan, or what his still-unnamed partner might contribute to the deal.
[Featured Image by Milo Yiannopoulos/Instagram]