9GAG DECODED: how much does it cost to build a meme empire?

3 min read
October 17, 2016

9GAG, the central place where you go for your daily fix of memes and comedy relief when life gets tough or commutes grow long.

When it started in 2008, 9GAG was just a side project, a site for funny and irreverent content uploaded by users, like many other comedy sites out there. Nevertheless, it soon rose to be the shining star of the Y combinator, raising $2.8MM before their demo day.

Since then, it has grown to 1 202 000 000 monthly page views — yup, that’s a billion — and 73 000 000 monthly active users. But it started small and simple.

It all started with a web page

The site interface is straightforward and visual, focused on making the user experience as simple as possible — finding, consuming and sharing content are an effortless feat on 9GAG.

Part of the appeal is also the ability of the community to act as a curator, upvoting and downvoting content, and the comment section below the posts is where both friends and enemies are made.

Our engineers took all of this into account when they decoded 9GAG to see what it would take to rebuild it.

Note that the estimates are calculated in man-days, or how much working days one engineer would spend on a certain item!


So we’re up to hundred man-days.

But this is not where the story ends — it’s only just begun!

Going mobile

Following two lucrative rounds of funding, 9GAG launched as an app on iOS and Android in 2012. As the two versions drive around 3 million daily active users — or 5 to 6 million monthly active users — it’s pretty safe to say that the mobile apps turned out to be quite an important part of the platform.

So let’s take a look at what it takes to build the apps

411 HXBp2ViDX3bv6FPyfYoJ2Q

When you do the basic math, both mobile and web development amount to 297.5 man-days altogether.

Turning theory into delivery

Man-days or man-hours are a handy unit when you want to calculate how much something would cost, like we do now. At DECODE’s current rate of €400 a day, the math goes as follows:

421 y1EnegJNSsFCISVagEBb8Q

But chances are you’re not just interested in man-days — you also want to know when exactly can your product be delivered.

Marin (backend) and Ivan (iOS) coordinating on a project.

If a team of two developers work on each web, iOS and Android version, everything amounts to a lot less time.

Your next 9GAG can be delivered in less than 3 months!

During this period, you’re not just waiting and twirling your thumbs — your development team will be sending you new modules every month and stay in contact with you regularly to ensure we’re all on the same page.

We got your back

Keep in mind that this is the time and cost it takes to build the software.

Building a kick-ass product in the full sense of the word, and a successful business based on that product, is always a work in progress.

You can bet it took 9GAG much more time and resources to find and develop the perfect blend of features than it would take to recreate it with what we now know, thanks to their experience.

And whatever kind of product you decide to develop, you’ll have to walk that road as well.

The good news is, we’ll be with you every step of the way.

Written by

Mario Zderic

Co-founder and CTO

Mario makes every project run smoothly. A firm believer that people are DECODE’s most vital resource, he naturally grew into the role of People Operations Manager. Now, his encyclopaedic knowledge of every DECODEr’s role, and his expertise in all things tech, powers him to manage his huge range of responsibilities as COO. Part developer, and seemingly part therapist, Mario is always calm under pressure, which helps to maintain the office’s stress-free vibe. In fact, sitting and thinking is his main hobby. What’s more Zen than that?

Related articles