By 2016, Nishimura had declared that the cost of running 4chan was too high and suggested the site was about to shut down. In 2018, Nishimura tried to split the site in two — keeping 4chan and its salacious section, but creating a job-safe alternative on 4channel that was attractive to advertisers. Separate domains continue to this day, but both sites rely on the same self-serve advertising platform. The unsafe 4chan domain appears to display mostly pornographic ads, while 4channel mostly displays ads for Steam games, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs.
Web analytics firm Similarweb estimates that 4chan and 4channel are still among the 1,000 most popular websites in the world.
When the Select Committee investigating Jan. 6 attack on U.S. Capitol sent a letter Last August, in an effort to get 4chan to keep documents that would reveal the riots, the committee sent it to 4chan LLC and to Nishimura. Congressional investigators want to know what role, if any, 4chan played in the attack on the Capitol.
The committee declined to comment when asked if 4chan had responded to the request, or if Nishimura might be called to testify.
4chan LLC is incorporated in Delaware but has registered operations in New York, Virginia and Ohio. 4chan Community Support LLC, a company listed as the owner on the 4chan website, is also incorporated in Delaware. 4chan’s U.S. headquarters is listed as Los Angeles, according to filings with the state of New York and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Both LLCs report their addresses as PO Boxes in downtown Los Angeles.
Nishimura says he is based in Paris, although in 2019 he wants to BuzzFeed News About getting a Latvia visa.
4chan does not appear to have a separate physical office in the United States, nor does it have any employees. But there is another Japanese company with an office in Los Angeles, which explains a lot about the ownership and operations of Image Board Blur.
The Good Smile Company is a popular toy and hobby company—its brand of plastic figures called Nendoroids has attracted licensing deals from Disney, Marvel, Warner Bros., and many other U.S. and Japanese companies. (Disney, Marvel and Warner Bros. did not respond to WIRED’s requests for comment.)
In 2018, Good Smile released the Nendoroid of Yotsuba, a popular anime character who also happens to be 4chan’s unofficial mascot. On Instagram, fans spotted the “4chan on behalf of!” link. one person wrote. “Congratulations 4chan!” wrote another.
Many of Good Smile’s toys are popular on 4chan, some of which depict underage girls but are still marketed in sexually suggestive language, with erotic anime very popular.
Sources familiar with Good Smile say the company owns at least part of 4chan and that Good Smile has more involvement than has been publicly disclosed. Wired did not name the sources, who feared retribution for speaking out about Good Smile.
Internal Good Smile documents obtained by WIRED refer to a “non-disclosure agreement” dated April 2015 — just months after Poole announced he was leaving 4chan, but about five months before Nishimura was announced as a buyer .A document lists Dwango, Future Search Brazil and Hiroyuki Nishimura as “considering mergers and acquisitions” [mergers and acquisitions] About 4CHAN, LLC. The executive in charge of the five-year deal is listed as “Aki” — Good Smile CEO Takanori Aki.