StumbleUpon News Could Be Good News For Content Creators

Chris CrumBusiness

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What once was one of the biggest drivers of traffic to websites has been struggling a bit, but could be poised to make a significant comeback. In fact, it still is a significant traffic-driver for some sites, but it sounds like new corporate changes could create renewed focus, and that should only mean good things for websites that do get traffic from it.

Have you seen significant referral traffic from StumbleUpon at anytime over the years? Would you like to see it make a comeback? Share your thoughts in the comments.

We recently learned that StumbleUpon was reportedly in the process of laying off dozens of employees, though when we reached out to the company for comment, we were unable to get any.

Now, the story is becoming a little more clear. Garrett Camp, who co-founded the company back in 2001 (while still in grad school) announced that he is finalizing the process of becoming the majority shareholder of the company, and will be advising the management team on the "best way to bring serendipitous discovery to a wider audience."

In other words, the guy who made StumbleUpon great in the first place is getting more involved again.

The company sold to eBay back in 2007 before being sold back to Camp and partners two years later. He held the CEO role of the company up until 2012 and has remained chairman while he worked on other companies like Uber and Expa, which is a startup studio.

Camp says, "Some difficult changes to the product and company will be needed, and these changes will take time. But I strongly believe that systems like StumbleUpon play an important role in helping people discover what matters most to them. I’m excited to work with the team on product once again, getting back-to-basics and improving recommendations, while exploring potential synergies between SU and Expa."

He notes that while he is focused on Expa as that company's CEO, he has never stopped thinking about content discovery and how it can be improved. He is also calling upon StumbleUpon users to make suggestions about how they think the service can be better.

While StumbleUpon may not be on your mind that often these days, there is still a place for it in the content discovery/social media landscape. Anything the company does to keep users engaged is ultimately good for content creators.

Four years ago, StumbleUpon was the biggest driver of social media traffic to websites. Even bigger than Facebook. It's fallen out of favor since then, but based on data released earlier this year by Shareaholic, it still takes the number four spot behind Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. It was still leading over reddit, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube, and it was even on the rise.

Camp is right in that content discovery can still be better, and few companies have proven to have the kind of impact in that department that StumbleUpon has over the years. The greatest strength of StumbleUpon can be summed up in a comment that Camp makes in his announcement. It helps people "find content they otherwise wouldn't have thought to search for."

You could argue that others listed in the chart above do the same thing, yet StumbleUpon's approach has always been unique, and that's why even today there's something special about it. It's the randomness that it allows users to engage in alongside the controlled randomness (randomness within categories) aided by the quality control of the crowd.

It will be interesting to see what changes are made with Camp back in the fold. Personally, I'd like to see the Explore box make a comeback. The former feature let users "stumble" through content focused on specific keywords as opposed to broader topics. There was a lot of potential there as an alternative search tool, but it ultimately fell by the wayside.

According to VentureBeat, which first reported on the layoffs, StumbleUpon had just under 100 employees, and would only have about 30 after the cuts. It also said they were "preserving people in engineering and sales roles."

Do you see StumbleUpon as being a part of your content marketing strategy moving forward? Do you expect Camp's return to make a significant difference in the direction of the company for the better? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Images via Wikimedia Commons, Shareaholic

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.