Chris Weber and Jan Otte’s Journey: From Google to Global Wildlife Advocacy

Working at tech titans like Google could be seen as relatively wild, but it wasn’t wild enough for animal lovers Chris Weber and Jan Otte. The duo — who began as office mates at Google’s Dublin office — are the brains behind Animals Around the Globe, which serves as a source of animal news, interesting pieces, and pathways to conservation and education. 

The pathway from Google to swimming with Great White Sharks didn’t happen overnight, but today Weber and Otte are enjoying their highly influential animal advocacy site, which welcomes over 8 million visitors per month. 

“Our passion for wildlife is something we are eager to share,” says Weber. “We hope to inspire everyone to recognize that our beautiful planet is home to a myriad of other species, all of which deserve our respect.”

From idea to launch

Weber and Otte realized quickly that they had a lot in common while working at Google. They both had a passion for animals and wildlife — and pursuing new ventures. 

“We had so many friends who had created successful websites and blogs of their own,” explains Otte. “So, we decided to give it a shot.”

Animals Around the Globe began slowly, while the pair were still working their Google day jobs. The pair began with a singular vision of helping people explore and appreciate the animal kingdom, but soon, their idea to share their passion for animals began to blossom into a business venture centered around wildlife. 

Weber himself had a lifetime of travel under his belt, exploring habitats from savannas to oceans. This experience was woven within the community-building aspect of the Animals Around the Globe site. His well-traveled insight attracted other similarly experienced fans. 

“We quickly cultivated a dedicated community,” shares Weber. In a merging of worlds, their content soon began to dominate Google. 

Content and collaboration

Over four years after launch, both Weber and Otte began to amass a stable of collaborators, content creators, and freelancers who traveled the globe, writing about their experiences with animals — from ocean dwellers to jungle creatures. Eventually, their partnerships grew to include animal experts, and their content became more focused on being an authoritative and trusted resource about all things animals.

“We want to give experts an outlet to share their invaluable insights and experiences with our readership,” says Otte. Through conversations with wildlife experts, both Otte and Weber cultivated a better understanding and appreciation for wildlife conservation, understanding they had a certain amount of influence in the space to promote harmonious human and animal coexistence. 

Weber explains one issue that has become evident through their research and work with experts. “One key challenge is the stark contrast between populations in developed regions, which possess the financial resources needed to assist, but often remain distanced from wildlife; and those in developing regions, which live alongside wildlife, but often exploit it for sustenance and income to combat pressing economic needs,” he explains to WHU. 

The team has developed a three-step plan for addressing the challenges set forth by development, financial disparity, and animal exploitation. The first step is to draw people into the world of wildlife and conservation through entertaining content. Next, they educate the audience, channeling the knowledge and insights of their expert partners. Third, they continue to grow their online community of supportive fellow animal lovers. They are hopeful that users can immerse themselves in topics via the site.

Conservation and advocacy

Weber and Otte’s years of work on Animals Around the Globe have led the duo to become fierce advocates for animals and the need for wildlife preservation. They strive to understand the plight of people who perpetuate animal exploitation because of their dire needs and economic struggles, and are not without solutions to offer. 

Many game reserves — publicized by filmmakers and bloggers who share their work with Animals Around the Globe — have reached out to community members from these economically disadvantaged areas to employ them in preservation efforts. The goal is to transform the local wildlife habitats into attractive tourist destinations, supporting the surrounding communities economically and simultaneously preserving the habitat. In addition, community members are less likely to want to hunt or harm the animals that provide their livelihood. 

The pair have also partnered with the AMES Foundation, a leader in wildlife preservation in Africa. Through informative podcasts and videos, Animals Around the Globe has spread information about the plight of endangered species in Africa — especially rhinos. 

For both Weber and Otte, the opportunities available through Animals Around the Globe are boundless. They both continue to “think big” about the future of Animals Around the Globe’s reach and what they will accomplish through their content creation and advocacy. Weber and Otte are proud of their journey from co-workers to global influencers, and are moving forward with a vision of a world where humans and animals coexist in harmony.