It’s amazing what can be built from a teeny, tiny, thirty square foot bedroom on your normal, everyday college campus. I want to tell you the stories of three people today - three simple, short stories – and announce Car Throttle’s exciting acquisition of WTF1.com with founder Tom Bellingham serving as Editor, and the hire of popular motorsport personality Matt Gallagher to launch its YouTube channel. But first…
It’s 2009. I’m a fresh-faced, beardless, first year student in London, frustrated with the lack of car news and entertainment for young, online car enthusiasts. I decide to take matters into my own hands, registering a domain name complete with out-of-the-box Wordpress theme and a single, introductory blog post. The site is named Car Throttle.
Everyday after classes I sit down, log in, check traffic, write a little, supervise freelancers, tweak a few colours and send emails to advertisers, all in the hopes that someday Car Throttle can afford me a full-time job and land me drives in cars previously considered out of reach.
I graduate in 2011 and decide to follow the advice of a University professor: “Don’t follow the herd, let your passion guide you” – giving up corporate life in favour of the murky world of funemployment.
In 2017, there is a 2,500 square foot office in London, staff in New York, seven figure revenues and a mission to be the world’s largest brand for millennial car enthusiasts.
It’s December 2012 and our website has gone down. A quick search in logs appears to show a vicious DDOS attack, but after further analysis, it turns out this huge volume of traffic is real, and the source of the mayhem is Facebook. A page with 100,000 fans called Car Memes has decided to link to one of our articles, sending our rickety shared hosting solution to its death.
After some investigative work by CT’s first employee, Alex Kersten, it turns out the page is being co-run by a Bristol University student, Gabor Szedlak.
Gabor is our target audience personified: young, bold, driven… and addicted to social media. He tells us via Facebook Messenger about how he creates relatable memes and then sells these memes on bumper stickers to his diehard fans. He is earning a real income alongside his Geography degree studies.
I decide to visit Gabor, driving an Alfa Romeo Giulietta press car three hours to Bristol. A short ride and chat later, and my hunch is confirmed – Gabor knows social media inside out, and is the perfect person to join us, defined by his University bedroom hustle. Car Memes becomes Car Throttle’s first acquisition.
In 2017, Gabor is Chief Operating Officer, managing the day-to-day running of the business, in charge of an audience of 13 million Car Throttle followers being served 170 million video views per month.
It’s 2014 when I first come across a hilarious Twitter account; poking fun at Formula 1 drivers on race weekends and providing quirky write-ups on a Wordpress blog. I ask my team whether they’ve heard about WTF1 before and it becomes clear the brand has a hardcore, underground following of young, motorsport enthusiasts.
I track the page and its various social media profiles religiously over the next few months and organize a meeting with its founder, Tom Bellingham. Tommy, like Gabor, has a real passion for motorsport and evidently knows something we don’t – that motorsport is more popular than ever and that a new, younger audience is looking to engage via social media.
Tommy meets us on the roof of our first shared office space and we discuss the possibility of joining forces. However, it’s clear this isn’t the right time and we both agree to stay in touch.
A few years later and WTF1 continues to grow and we continue to chat – sometimes to discuss traffic strategies, sometimes to discuss on-site monetization. But this time the collaborative conversation is very different.
Today I’m pleased to announce that Car Throttle has acquired WTF1 with Tom Bellingham joining the company as its Editor.
Car Throttle’s aim is to become the largest company for millennial car enthusiasts. We want to help this audience discover, buy and share their four-wheeled enthusiasm. However, there are fifty different shades of car enthusiast; ranging from lifestyle lovers, motorsport enthusiasts and supercar spotters, to car culture obsessives and in-market car buyers. WTF1 allows us to reach a slightly different audience with the same core value.
I’m also pleased to announce that Matt Gallagher, known by his handle xMattyG, has joined WTF1 as Presenter, to help launch its brand new YouTube channel. Matt grew his own channel to 50,000 subscribers in a short space of time and, in a niche where rights management presents a challenge, will be the face of WTF1 as we delve into original motorsport programming.
I encourage you all to subscribe to the YouTube channel, follow on Twitter, like on Facebook and Instagram, and bookmark the site as we start a new, exciting journey today. Please join me in welcoming Tom and Matt to the team.
Onwards, and upwards.