From Anime Fan to Crunchyroll CEO: The Journey of Kun Gao

Kun Gao is a man who has managed to turn his passion for anime and entertainment into a successful business venture. He co-founded Crunchyroll, a video-streaming platform for anime, manga, and drama, in 2006, which later became one of the most popular anime streaming platforms in the world. With over 100,000 hours of anime content available, Crunchyroll has amassed over 70 million registered users worldwide.

But, how did Kun Gao transition from being an anime fan to a CEO of a successful company? Let’s dive into his journey.

The Early Days:

Kun Gao was born in Beijing, China, in 1982. Even though he was born in China, he grew up in the United States, where he developed an interest in Japanese animation and manga. Like many other fans of the genre, he enjoyed watching anime and reading manga during his free time.

However, his love for anime and manga didn’t distract him from his studies. In 2004, he graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in Computer Science. After that, he worked as a software engineer at a startup company.

The Creation of Crunchyroll:

In 2006, Kun Gao founded Crunchyroll with two of his friends, James Lin and Brandon Ooi. The concept behind the platform was to provide anime fans with legal access to anime content instead of relying on pirated versions. Crunchyroll initially started as a forum for discussing anime and manga, but the founders realized that there was a demand for streaming services.

In 2008, the platform transitioned into an official streaming platform, and this is when the company started to take off. Initially, Crunchyroll offered a limited range of anime shows with English subtitles, but the platform soon expanded its catalog to include Japanese dramas, manga, and simulcasts.

Kun Gao’s Vision:

One of the biggest challenges for Crunchyroll in the early days was trying to get the support of Japanese anime studios. At the time, there was a lot of piracy happening in the anime community, which made the studios hesitant to work with Crunchyroll.

However, Kun Gao had a clear vision of what he wanted for the platform. He wanted to build a sustainable business model that could support the industry and its artists. He believed that if he could provide the studios with a legitimate platform to distribute their content, the fans would follow.

To achieve this, Kun Gao worked hard to establish relationships with the studios and license holders. He understood that the only way to get their support was to show them that he was serious about the industry and that he was willing to pay for the content.

Crunchyroll Becomes a Global Phenomenon:

Over the years, Crunchyroll has become one of the most popular anime streaming platforms worldwide. The company has expanded its catalog to include over 1,000 anime shows, more than 200 manga titles, and a range of Asian dramas.

The platform also offers simulcasts, which means that users can watch episodes the same day they are aired in Japan. This has helped Crunchyroll gain a massive following among anime fans, and the company now has over 3 million paid subscribers.

Crunchyroll has also had a significant impact on the anime industry. By providing a legitimate platform for distributing anime content, the company has been able to support the industry and its artists. This has helped to reduce piracy and increase revenue for the studios.

Kun Gao’s Contribution:

Kun Gao has been instrumental in the success of Crunchyroll. His vision for the platform and his hard work to establish relationships with the studios and license holders has helped the company grow into the global phenomenon it is today.

Under his leadership, Crunchyroll has won numerous awards, including the Anime of the Year award at the 2018 Crunchyroll Anime Awards. The company has also been recognized for its contribution to the industry, winning the Industry Icon Award at the 2018 Anime Expo.


Kun Gao’s journey from anime fan to CEO of Crunchyroll is an inspiring one. His passion for anime and his vision for creating a legitimate platform for distributing anime content has helped to support the industry and its artists.

His hard work and dedication have paid off, and Crunchyroll has become a global phenomenon, with millions of fans worldwide. It is safe to say that Crunchyroll would not be the success it is today without Kun Gao’s contribution.

Jameson Hunter

Xin chào, tôi là Jameson Hunter, một chuyên gia chia sẻ kiến thức và nhà sáng tạo nội dung với hơn 10 năm kinh nghiệm trong lĩnh vực này. Tôi sinh ngày 14/05/1989 tại Đà Nẵng, và tốt nghiệp Đại Học Bách Khoa Đà Nẵng. Tôi đam mê giải đáp và review các sản phẩm, dịch vụ trong nhiều lĩnh vực khác nhau, và luôn cố gắng chia sẻ những kiến thức hữu ích nhất cho cộng đồng. Cảm ơn vì đã đọc giới thiệu của tôi.

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