I've written about StumbleUpon more often than probably anyone else in the media over the last few years, but I'll be damned if know what the current situation is.
I know one thing. 5by is shutting down. I got that email a little bit ago. It says:
Dear 5by users,
We wanted to let you know that today we are shutting down 5by.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed using the product as much as we’ve enjoyed building it, and we hope that in the wake of our attempt at building the premiere platform for video discovery and sharing, we have inspired moments of joy, entertainment, hilarity and awe.
To continue to discover great videos, download the StumbleUpon app below.
Thank you for your loyal support,
The 5by Team
5by was StumbleUpon's first acquisition. This happened just over two years ago.
Earlier this year, I interviewed both StumbleUpon CEO Mark Bartels and 5by CEO Greg Isenberg. It sounded like there were grand plans for 5by including business profiles. Apparently all of that went to hell.
During the summer, StumbleUpon went through a round of layoffs that reportedly numbered in the "dozens".
Shortly after reports about that emerged, news came that co-founder Garrett Camp (pictured) was becoming the majority shareholder of the company, and would be advising the management team on the "best way to bring serendipitous discovery to a wider audience."
Camp wrote on Medium in August (his most recent post):
A few years ago, after co-founding Uber and getting excited about several new ideas, I left my day-to-day role at SU and began working on Expa, a startup studio designed to help founders create new companies. Since then we’ve helped create a few cool products, and have a few more on the way. And while I’m focused on Expa as CEO these days, I’ve never stopped thinking about content discovery, and how it could be better.
So after careful consideration, I’m now finalizing the process of becoming the majority shareholder of StumbleUpon. In this role, I will be advising the management team on the best way to bring serendipitous discovery to a wider audience. 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.
There was nothing about Bartels stepping down from the CEO role at the company, nor were there reports (to my knowledge) about Isenberg leaving.
In fact, reports about Camp's return including the best one I've come across (from Business Insider) are the last time the company was in the news cycle.
In light of the 5by email, I began reaching out to contacts, but have so far received nothing but tumbleweeds (which is the same thing I got at the time of the Camp news).
I did notice, however, that Bartels now has StumbleUpon listed under "previous" on LinkedIn. He's now currently listed only as a partner at Motopos. Isenberg also has "5by (Acquired by StumbleUpon)" listed as previous. It says he's currently at Indicator Ventures.
I have reached out to both and so far have yet to get a response.
So, uh, 5by is no more, but who is StumbleUpon's CEO? Google is still telling me Bartels.
I couldn't believe I would have missed news about a change in the position, but just to make sure, I had to check. There are no articles out there as far as I can tell that indicate anyone other than Bartels (including Camp) has assumed the role.
Until I hear otherwise, I have to assume Camp is just running the show, but things seem to be pretty under the radar here. Even Camp still just has StumbleUpon listed as "previous" on LinkedIn. And phrases like "I’m focused on Expa as CEO" and "advising the management team" don't make it sound like he's taken over the role of Bartels.
StumbleUpon's company blog hasn't been updated since May of last year, but I do know people are still working on it because I've encountered a redesign to the content submission process over the last couple weeks.
So, anybody know what's going on with StumbleUpon these days?
It's hard for me to believe there is this much mystery around a company that has been one of the top drivers of social media referral traffic on the web.
Image via Wikimedia Commons