Within her first year as an Internet celebrity, Grumpy Cat earned an estimated $1 million in appearances, endorsements and a movie deal. Her manager Ben Lashes—a musician turned meme manager—takes a 20 percent cut.
For anyone familiar with famous Internet cats, Lashes has a pretty impressive roster of clients. Along with his star client Grumpy Cat, he also represents Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat. Lashes recently branched out beyond cats to manage other meme celebs like Ridiculously Photogenic Guy and Scumbag Steve.
Speaking to Mashable, Lashes says that the world of Internet memes is no different than that of comic books in regards in regards to the built-in, arduous fan base and the massive opportunity for licensing.
Monetizing [the memes] can be totally different depending on the thing, it's not just one formula. There's advertising, licensing for merchandising, licensing in the digital world. And they become brands in themselves. It's not that much different if you own Bart Simpson or Mickey Mouse.