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The man whose site inspired 4chan is now running 4chan

The man whose site inspired 4chan is now running 4chan

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Eight months after founder Christopher "Moot" Poole announced his resignation, 4chan has a new owner. In a news post, Poole writes that he has handed the site over to Hiroyuki Nishimura, creator of Japanese message board 2channel. The New York Times, which spoke to Poole, says that he sold 4chan for an undisclosed sum, and he doesn't expect to stay involved in the site's operation. It's been run primarily by administrators that Poole appointed when he stepped down in January.

Founded in 1999, 2channel became a forum for anonymous and chaotic online conversations. At age 15, Poole translated its format into 4chan, which launched in 2003. "None of us would be using 4chan today — or potentially any anonymous image board — if it weren't for him," writes Poole. "He is one of few individuals with a deep understanding of what it means to provide a digital home for tens of millions of people for more than a decade. There is nobody more qualified than Hiroyuki to lead 4chan, and I can't think of a person better suited for the task." As the Times notes, Nishimura — who sold 2channel in 2009 — was also recently announced as editor-in-chief of Variety Japan.

4chan, especially the /b/ "random" board, has shaped large parts of internet culture over the past decade. Among other things, it was the birthplace of the Anonymous hacktivist movement, which spread from a campaign against Scientology to a broad umbrella that can cover everything from anti-surveillance protests to hacks of major security companies. In recent years, though, it's been overshadowed by the less anarchic Reddit. It's also long been operated more as a labor of love than a business. It makes money through advertising and through optional $20 "passes" for dedicated users. Nishimura has said that he's "proud to be taking Mr. Poole’s place as the owner of 4chan," but neither he nor Poole have discussed the future direction of the site.