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Chan has never pinned his hopes on the government to shape the fate of his company because he believes it is too inefficient. Although 9GAG is currently looking for a new office space in order to expand, he has never thought of applying for one in the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park because of the lengthy and complicated application procedure.

Neither does he think the lack of government assistance should be an impediment to success. Chan believes Hong Kong people have a tendency to blame the government for their own misfortune, and this is a mindset that must be got rid of.

“Whether you can succeed mostly depends on your own effort rather than the external environment,” says Chan. “If there is no way to change the environment, why bother grumbling about it?”

This stoic pragmatism has served him well, particularly when it comes to dealing with the downside of success. There is a Chinese saying that “Man should fear fame as pigs fear fattening”, and 9GAG’s popularity has attracted critics as well as fans. The best example of this is the fierce feud between users of 9GAG and 4chan, another online sharing platform.

In late 2011, 9GAGgers came into conflict with users of 4chan, after some 9GAG users claimed to be the creators of memes that had originated from 4chan. The conflict turned into a major cyber battle in which supporters of 9GAG and 4chan went to extreme lengths to attack each other, such as constant spam posting.

Chan could not care less about the online battle. “We don’t think 4Chan is our competitor, let alone the strongest,” he says, shrugging his shoulders.

He regards the accusations of plagiarism against 9GAG as trivial, saying that if a copyright owner has a problem with materials being posted on 9GAG, all they have to do is to send him an email and the content will instantly be taken down.

Perhaps the secret to Chan’s success is that he is not easily discouraged or distracted. When asked about 9GAG’s formula for success, he sums it up in three words: perseverance, attempt and determination. “Persevere with everything you do; never withhold yourself from making attempts; and after you find what you truly aspire to, you do it with determination.”