This founder says meme tech is the next big thing

Alex Taub, a longtime founder with multiple exits under his belt, believes it’s time to disrupt the meme industry.
“I have this big thesis that meme tech is going to be the next big category,” Taub told TechCrunch. “Like, there’s health tech, there’s proptech, there’s adtech, there’s fintech… I think meme tech is about to have a big moment.”
Taub might sound like he’s spent a bit too much time in the trenches of the content mines. But he has a point. If you want to send your friend the perfect SpongeBob meme, what are you supposed to do? Google “mr krabs confused meme”? Memes are a key component of our online communications — from boomers posting minions to gen alpha posting about toilets — and yet few companies have tried to do anything new.
To be clear, tech innovation isn’t always good or necessary. No one needs to own a smart refrigerator, or for that matter, a Humane Ai pin. But there’s been almost no innovation in how we organize and share memes for more than a decade: On Tumblr in 2009, it was common practice to have a reaction gif folder on your computer desktop; now, the most organized among us have meme folders on our phones. It’s basically the same thing. Similarly, even though your iPhone can quickly catalog all of your pictures of a cat named Plover, iPhones don’t know who Mr. Krabs is, leaving a bit to be desired in terms of meme efficiency.
“If you think of what meme tech really is right now, it’s essentially Giphy, but it got acquired by Facebook, and then got sort of shuttered off to Shutterstock. There’s some OG companies like Know Your Meme and Cheezburger, but those companies are actually media companies,” Taub said. “I ended up realizing there’s an opportunity here for meme management.”
On Wednesday, Taub launched Meme Depot, which he aspires to build into a comprehensive archive of any meme imaginable.
“You have collections, which are like subreddits, visually,” he explains. If you’re looking for a Kim Kardashian meme, for example, there would be a Kim Kardashian collection that you can navigate to. “And visually, they’re very easy to look through, like Pinterest.”
That’s all well and good, but companies need to make money. Here’s where Taub might lose people: The business model revolves around crypto.
“I’ve been in crypto in one way or another the last 12 years, and I think it’s very misunderstood in terms of the speculation and the bad actors, but it’s also just a new way to reimagine the internet,” he said.
Inspired by, Meme Depot has a feature called meme party, which turns specific meme categories into communities. Using cryptocurrency, users can buy depot passes to join the meme party, which is basically just an ephemeral, cursor-based chat. But for people who don’t want anything to do with crypto, it’s not necessary to pay money or open a crypto wallet to engage with Meme Depot in any way. It allows early pass holders of a meme collection to earn a bit of money as more people join it.
Taub is well aware that this tactic could spark debate.
“There’s a lot of controversy about like, who is allowed to monetize memes? Is it the creator of the meme, is it the person in the meme?” he said. “If this takes off the way I think it will, we might add a new wrinkle to this, which is a good thing. You want people to talk about it.”
These same questions were raised during the NFT boom of 2021, when the subjects of viral memes like Scumbag Steve, Disaster Girl and Overly Attached Girlfriend sold their iconic images as NFTs. This was often the first time that these people earned any money for being the subject of viral memes — Disaster Girl, now in her twenties, earned the equivalent of $500,000 in ETH at the time, though that could have depreciated significantly depending on what she did with the cryptocurrency.
Then there are memes like Pepe the Frog, which evolved from an innocent cartoon to an alt-right symbol, and back again to a Twitch emote and crypto meme. When an image is so divorced from its origin, it could belong more so to the public than its original creator.
“People can monetize the community around the meme without monetizing the meme itself,” Taub said.
Meme Depot is part of Truth Arts, which operates with a mixture of venture funding, royalties from the Goblintown NFT collection and money from selling past ventures like SocialRank, a social media analytics company. For some business-minded folk, the question may persist: why memes?
Taub’s answer is simple: “Memes are culture, and culture is entertainment.”
Updated, 5/29/24, 1:20 p.m. ET with clarification on the nature of Meme Depot’s funding.
Every weekday and Sunday, you can get the best of TechCrunch’s coverage.
Startups are the core of TechCrunch, so get our best coverage delivered weekly.
The latest Fintech news and analysis, delivered every Tuesday.
TechCrunch Mobility is your destination for transportation news and insight.
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice.
Though Spotify never shared official numbers, it’s likely that Car Thing underperformed or was just not worth continued investment in today’s tighter economic market.
The studies, by researchers at MIT, Ben-Gurion University, Cambridge and Northeastern, were independently conducted but complement each other well.
Welcome back to TechCrunch Mobility — your central hub for news and insights on the future of transportation. Sign up here for free — just click TechCrunch Mobility! Okay, okay…
In a series of posts on X on Thursday, Paul Graham, the co-founder of startup accelerator Y Combinator, brushed off claims that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was pressured to resign…
In its three-year history, EthonAI has amassed some fairly high-profile customers including Siemens and chocolate-maker Lindt.
Don’t miss out: TechCrunch Disrupt early-bird pricing ends in 48 hours! The countdown is on! With only 48 hours left, the early-bird pricing for TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 will end on…
Biotech startup Valar Labs has built a tool that accurately predicts certain treatment outcomes, potentially saving precious time for patients.
Archer Aviation is partnering with ride-hailing and parking company Kakao Mobility to bring electric air taxi flights to South Korea starting in 2026, if the company can get its aircraft…
Space startup Basalt Technologies started in a shed behind a Los Angeles dentist’s office, but things have escalated quickly: Soon it will try to “hack” a derelict satellite and install…
As a teen model, Katrin Kaurov became financially independent at a young age. Aleksandra Medina, whom she met at NYU Abu Dhabi, also learned to manage money early on. The…
Can AI help you tell your story? That’s the idea behind a startup called Autobiographer, which leverages AI technology to engage users in meaningful conversations about the events in their…
AI-powered summaries of webpages are a feature that you will find in many AI-centric tools these days. The next step for some of these tools is to prepare detailed and…
ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…
A surge of battery recycling startups have emerged in Europe in a bid to tap into the next big opportunity in the EV market: battery waste.  Among them is Cylib,…
Amazon has received approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly its delivery drones longer distances, the company announced on Thursday. Amazon says it can now expand its…
With Plannin, creators can tell their audience about their latest trip, which hotels they liked and post photos of their travels.
Amazon is rolling out its AI voice search feature to Alexa, which lets it answer open-ended questions about content.
Redpanda has already integrated Benthos into its own service and has made it the core technology of its new Redpanda Connect service.
It’s a lofty goal to take on legacy payments infrastructure, however, Forward’s model has an advantage by shifting the economics back to SaaS companies.
Fertility remains a pressing concern around the world — birthrates are down in many countries, and infertility rates (that is, the ability to conceive at all) are up. And given…
Microsoft, Meta, Intel, AMD and others have formed a new group to design next-gen interconnects for AI accelerator hardware.
With JioFinance, the Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani is making his boldest consumer-facing move yet into financial services.
Salespeople live and die by commissions. It’s no surprise, then, that Salesforce paid a premium to buy a platform that simplifies managing commissions.
YoLa Fresh works with over a thousand retailers across Morocco and records up to $1 million in gross merchandise volume.
Instagram is expanding the scope of its “Limits” tool specifically for teenagers that would let them restrict unwanted interactions with people.
Agritech company Iyris helps growers across eleven countries globally increase crop yields, reduce input costs, and extend growing seasons. says it uses generative AI to help artists retain legal ownership of their art while being able to reproduce their designs faster and at scale.
FintechOS competes with other companies such as Ncino, Meridian Link, Abrigo and Backbase.
After two years of preparation and four delays over the past several months due to technical glitches, Indian space startup Agnikul has successfully launched its first suborbital test vehicle, powered…
Struggling EV startup Fisker has laid off hundreds of employees in a bid to stay alive, as it continues to search for funding, a buyout or prepare for bankruptcy. Workers…
Powered by WordPress VIP

Sponsor:News technical sponsor
Sponsor:News AI sponsor
Sponsor: AI sponsor
Sponsor: AI sponsor

Leave a Comment

Vélemény, hozzászólás?

Az e-mail címet nem tesszük közzé. A kötelező mezőket * karakterrel jelöltük