Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh appeared today at the In NW social media conference in Seattle, offering an impassioned plea on the importance of protecting the Internet. Or, as the Internet entrepreneur dubs it: “The greatest thing that mankind has ever created.”
Huh, who was instrumental in the recent fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, said that they successfully melted down the phone lines at Congress with the campaign in part because Americans realized that the U.S. should not serve as “owner” of the Internet but as “protector” of it.
Here are extended remarks from Huh’s talk:
“I don’t want to protect the Internet because I like copyright infringement. That is not what this is about. What this is about is that we like the Internet and protect the Internet because we think it is going to be good for humanity and business and commerce and education and for free speech and for politics and all of the things that go with the world’s largest connected system. We like that. And we are not fearful of the unintended side effects of what a great Internet can do, because we’ve come this far. We have made society this much better. We’ve created this many jobs on an unfettered Internet.
There’s always going to be a Goliath. There’s always going to be a David. And if you continue to protect Goliaths, you will never see more Davids. This country and our innovation depends on our ability to birth more Davids to go and challenge the Goliaths. And when the Davids become Goliaths, we make more Davids. Because the growth comes from the people who are willing to trade what they have for what they want in the future. I had a nice cushy job and I left that to start my company. And when I left it, it was me and my dog sitting on a couch at home with daytime soap opera on with my laptop in my lap, one site called I Can Has Cheezburger that posted funny cat pictures with captions. Talk about a David. I was a nobody. I was absolutely, positively a nobody.
But the Internet didn’t say I couldn’t do that. I didn’t know you couldn’t make a business doing that. So when I didn’t know that I shouldn’t be successful, I kept on trying. And when I kept on trying, we raised investment money, we bought more Web sites and we brought more jobs to Seattle — and we now have almost 100 employees in four years.
And one day we hope to be a Goliath. But the reason we are going to be a Goliath is because somebody let us be a David. And when you do not restrain the Internet, you will create more jobs, create more freedom, create more educated people than any other thing that we’ve ever created. And this is why we have to defend it and this is why we have to protect it. It is the greatest thing that mankind has ever created.”