HowStuffWorks is an American commercial educational website founded by Marshall Brain to provide its target audience an insight into the way many things work. The site uses various media to explain complex concepts, terminology, and mechanisms—including photographs, diagrams, videos, animations, and articles.
Type of site
|Created by||Marshall Brain|
|Alexa rank||682 (April 2014[update])|
|Launched||July 11, 1998|
The website was acquired by Discovery Communications in 2007, but sold it to different owners in 2014. The site has since expanded out into podcasting, focusing on factual topics. In 2018, the company, which had since been spun-off by System1 under the name Stuff Media, was acquired by iHeartMedia for $55 million.
In 1998, North Carolina State University professor Marshall Brain started the site as a hobby. In 1999, Brain raised venture capital and formed HowStuffWorks, Inc. In March 2002, HowStuffWorks was sold to the Convex Group, an Atlanta-based investment and media company founded by Jeff Arnold, founder and former chief executive officer (CEO) of WebMD. The headquarters moved from Cary, North Carolina, to Atlanta. HowStuffWorks originally focused on science and machines, ranging from submarines to common household gadgets and appliances. After adding a staff of writers, artists, and editors, content expanded to a larger array of topics.
In November 2004, HowStuffWorks moved its entertainment section to Stuffo. However, in 2006, the team disbanded and the site now redirects visitors to the site's entertainment channel.
There have been four HowStuffWorks books – two illustrated hardcover coffee table books called HowStuffWorks and More HowStuffWorks, and two un-illustrated paperbacks called How Much Does the Earth Weigh? and What If?. HowStuffWorks puts out an educational magazine called "HowStuffWorks Express" for middle school students. The company has also released a series of HowStuffWorks trivia "LidRock" discs – CD-ROMs sold on fountain drink lids at Regal Theaters.
Howstuffworks.com spun off its international division when they went public (Nasdaq:HSWI) via an acquisition of INTAC, a China-based company. In March 2007, HSW International launched its Portuguese website with headquarters in São Paulo, Brazil. The Portuguese term for the site is Como Tudo Funciona, which means "how everything works." In June 2008, the Chinese site was launched with new headquarters placed in Beijing, China. The URL roughly translates to "Knowledge Information Web."
On October 15, 2007, Discovery Communications announced it had bought HowStuffWorks for US$250 million. The company later chose to use the name HowStuffWorks as the title of a television series on its Discovery Channel. The series, which focuses on commodities, premiered in November 2008 and is similar in style and content to other "how it works" programs like Modern Marvels.
On November 2, 2009, HSW International co-founded Sharecare, developing a social QA platform through which users ask health and wellness-related questions, receiving answers from industry experts. Other co-founders in Sharecare include Jeff Arnold, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Harpo Productions, Discovery Communications and Sony Pictures Television.
On April 21, 2014, Discovery Communications announced that they had sold HowStuffWorks to Blucora for $45 million. In July 2016, Blucora announced the sale of its Infospace business, including HowStuffWorks, to OpenMail for $45 million in cash. OpenMail was later renamed System1.
In 2014, HowStuffWorks moved its headquarters from Buckhead to Ponce City Market, a new mixed-use development in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood of Atlanta. In June 2017, they announced the hiring of Cracked.com founder and former editor-in-chief Jack O'Brien for their new comedy podcasting division.
HowStuffWorks maintains a large number of podcasts, hosted by its staff writers and editors.
- Stuff You Should Know: an audio podcast and video series on various topics from all fields of interest, co-hosted by senior staff writers Josh Clark and Charles "Chuck" Bryant. In older episodes, editors Candace Keener and Chris Pollette co-hosted with Clark before Bryant became the permanent co-host. The podcast falls under the category of "Society and Culture". It was granted recognition as one of iTunes' Best of 2008 podcasts.
- Stuff You Missed in History Class, originally called Fact or Fiction? History Stuff for the History Buff: important historical events originally hosted by Candace Keener and Josh Clark. He was replaced by Jane McGrath in November 2008, who in turn was replaced in June 2009 by Katie Lambert. In August 2009, Keener was replaced by Sarah Dowdey. In November 2010, Deblina Chakraborty replaced Lambert, Candace Keener guest co-hosting for three episodes between Lambert's departure and Chakraborty's arrival. In February 2013, Chakraborty left the podcast and was replaced by editor Holly Frey. In March 2013, Dowdey was replaced by Tracy Wilson.
- TechStuff: dedicated to demystifying technology and discussing its impact on society, originally hosted by technology editor Chris Pollette and senior staff writer Jonathan Strickland. In January 2013 Chris Pollette was replaced as co-host by Social Media Editor Lauren Vogelbaum. Vogelbaum left the program in 2015 and Strickland became a solo host. Topics range from the history of tech companies (i.e. the recent RIM Podcast) to the way a piece of technology works (I.e. a podcast on micropayments) to the way things work to fictional tech ("The Tech Of Doctor Who").
- Brainstuff: a podcast originally hosted by Marshall Brain. It was formerly hosted by a rotating cast of HSW editors, then Christian Sager and now Lauren Vogelbaum, and deals with natural sciences. Usually is a 5 to 10-minute podcast.
- CarStuff (formerly High Speed Stuff): (cancelled) dealing with automotive topics and is hosted by editor Scott Benjamin and video writer Ben Bowlin.
- Stuff Mom Never Told You: explores feminism and gender roles, and highlights notable pioneering women, hosted by staff writers Caroline Ervin and Cristen Conger. Ervin replaced original host Molly Edmonds in 2011. The final episode of the podcast was broadcast on December 28, 2016. The podcast resumed on May 17, 2017, with new hosts Emilie Aries and Bridget Todd.
- HowStuffWorks NOW: (cancelled) an audio podcast that draws from the weekly NOW video series. It is hosted by Lauren Vogelbaum.
- The Stuff of Life: (cancelled) a podcast hosted by Julie Douglas that focuses on a different question each week. There is a regular guest roundtable segment as well as interviews with researchers and experts.
- Stuff of Genius: was a short video format podcast that focuses on an inventor or innovator (i.e., genius) for each episode. The video features humorous animation with a voice over originally provided by site founder Marshall Brain with later episodes narrated by Jonathan Strickland.
- The Coolest Stuff on the Planet: (cancelled) was a video podcast that highlights a specific location and features geographic-specific facts and trivia.
- Stuff They Don't Want You To Know: a video and audio podcast that focuses on conspiracy theories and the evidence and arguments for or against them. Hosted by Ben Bowlin, Matt Frederick and Noel Brown.
- Stuff To Blow Your Mind (formerly Stuff From the Science Lab): focuses on natural science. It is hosted by Robert Lamb, one of the site's senior writers, and Joe McCormick. They replaced Julie Douglas, a writer and editor, who launched the "Stuff of Life" podcast in 2015. Christian Sager left the show in December 2017.
- Stuff To Make You Smarter: (cancelled) was a podcast focusing mainly on general topics and their impact on the human body. Hosted by writers Rob and Chris.
- Stuff From the B-Side: (cancelled) was a podcast originally hosted by senior staff writer Charles "Chuck" Bryant and staff writer John Fuller and deals with music. Later episodes feature Mark Larson taking Charles Bryant's place as host. No new episodes have been released since December 2009.
- PopStuff: (cancelled) was an opinion based podcast, featuring Pop culture related topics, including televisions shows and movies. Hosted by Holly and Tracy. The last episode aired on March 18, 2013, with reruns of certain epsidoes airing until June 3, 2013.
- Stuff for a Stylish Home: (cancelled) was a podcast on home decor, DIY, and home style.
- Fw: Thinking: (cancelled): a podcast that focuses on the future of science and technology. It is hosted by Jonathan Strickland, Lauren Vogelbaum and Joe McCormick.
- Savor: a food podcast hosted by Lauren Vogelbaum and Anney Reese. Formerly FoodStuff.
- Part-Time Genius:: a general interest podcast hosted by Mental Floss founders Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur.
- Atlanta Monster: in cooperation with Tenderfoot TV, a crime podcast about the Atlanta murders of 1979–81. Hosted by Payne Lindsey of podcast Up and Vanished.
- Movie Crush: is a movie discussion podcast hosted by senior staff writer Charles "Chuck" Bryant where he interviews celebrities about their favourite movie.
- The Daily Zeitgeist: is a daily comedic news podcast hosted by Jack O'Brien and Miles Gray, with a rotating guest daily.
- Drawn: The Story of Animation: a co-production of HowStuffWorks and Cartoon Network, a weekly podcast hosted by Holly Frey discussing the history of animated cartoons.
- Couples Therapy: a podcast hosted by Naomi Ekperigin and Andy Beckerman which examines relationships.
- Behind the Bastards: is a weekly comedic history podcast hosted by Robert Evans exploring the lives of deplorable historical figures.
- Ridiculous History: is a semiweekly comedy history podcast about the more unknown, ridiculous and unbelievable parts of history. Hosted by Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown.
- "Howstuffworks.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
- "HowStuffWorks.com WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved 2016-08-05.
- HowStuffWorks sold to vulture fund BizJournals 2002-09-02.
- "HowStuffWorks - Stuffo". Archived from the original on 2004-11-14. Retrieved 2004-11-14.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- HowStuffWorks at Compete.com
- "HowStuffWorks - como tudo funciona". Hsw.com.br. 2000-04-01. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
- "博闻网 知道就好!". Bowenwang.com.cn. 2000-04-01. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
- "Discovery Buys HowStuffWorks.com" by the Wall Street Journal
- - "Precious Commodities" . - Discovery Channel Archived March 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Wasko, Janet and Calderon, Carlos. - "Modern Marvels: Celebrating How It Works". - University of Oregon. - May 7, 2008
- "Dr. Mehmet Oz and Internet Entrepreneur, Jeff Arnold, Announce Sharecare Inc.,a Web 3.0 Platform, Organizing and Answering the Questions of Health". Bloomberg. November 2, 2009. Retrieved 2011-04-02.
- "Discovery Sells HowStuffWorks at 82% Loss After Seven Years". Bloomberg. April 21, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
- "Blucora to sell InfoSpace business for $45 million". Seattle Times. July 5, 2016.
- "System1 raises $270 million for 'consumer intent' advertising". L.A. Biz. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
- "Cracked Founder Exits to Create Comedy Division at HowStuffWorks". Variety.com. 2017. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Spangler, Todd (2018-09-13). "iHeartMedia to Buy HowStuffWorks Podcasting Parent for $55 Million". Variety. Retrieved 2018-09-15.