Sunday, April 6, 2008

Secrets Behind Crunchyroll

Launched in the summer of 2006, Crunchyroll is a video-streaming site run by Crunchyroll, Inc. that grew by serving illegal (unlicensed) content, namely Japanese Animation (anime). The site generated revenue by soliciting donations and through advertising. After failing to be bought out by Viacom in 2007, Crunchyroll secured venture capital funding to the tune of $4 million through Venrock.

Who are the shadowy people behind this secretive corporation? The only person to have come out of the closet so far is Vu Nguyen, a co-founder who handles "business development." However, a search on publicly available records through the State of California Department of Corporations indicate that the executive officers are as follows.

Crunchyroll, Inc.
 Name  Listed Position
 Kun Gao  beneficial owner, executive officer, director
 Vu Nguyen  executive officer
 Sanha Han  executive officer
 Brandon Ooi  beneficial owner, executive officer, director
 James Lin  beneficial owner, executive officer, director
 Ashwin Navin  director
 David Siminoff  director
(U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Form D, Notice of Sale of Securities)

A Google search reveals that Kun Gao, Vu Nguyen, Brandon Ooi, and James Lin were graduates of the University of California, Berkeley. They are listed here with the Berkeley chapter of HKN.

Ashwin Navin appears to be the co-founder and president of BitTorrent. David Siminoff is from Venrock.

Kun Gao, listed first on the SEC filing which is also signed off by him as "president," was studying as a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University until recently. Meanwhile, Brandon Ooi is listed as the contact person for Crunchyroll's corporate filing, as well as for the predecessor to Crunchyroll, Code Mobs.

Articles on the web pointed out that Crunchyroll is run by employees at HotorNot. Indeed, Kun Gao's profile at CMU does indicate that he worked at HotorNot. Brandon Ooi also worked at HotorNot, along with Vu Nguyen as well. Moreover, the founders of HotorNot, James Hong and Jim Young, are both graduates of Berkeley, like most of the founders of Crunchyroll.