Exclusive: StumbleUpon CEO Gives Us A Big Update About What We Can Soon Expect

StumbleUpon has been around since 2001, providing a unique way for Internet users to find websites and pages related to topics they’re interested in. The company has long provided a method of co...
Exclusive: StumbleUpon CEO Gives Us A Big Update About What We Can Soon Expect
Written by Chris Crum
  • StumbleUpon has been around since 2001, providing a unique way for Internet users to find websites and pages related to topics they’re interested in. The company has long provided a method of content discovery that has for one, gone virtually unparalleled by competitors, and for two, been lauded for years by marketers and webmasters who have have seen tremendous amounts of traffic to their own sites.

    Are you seeing significant results from StumbleUpon these days? Let us know in the comments.

    While the company has seen ups, downs and a lot of changes over the years (like being bought and eventually spun off by eBay), the company is still going strong despite laying off 30% of its staff in January, and having an otherwise quiet year with few announcements.

    Rest assured, StumbleUpon is doing just fine. As a spokesperson for the company recently told us, they’ve been keeping their “heads down, working on product,” in 2013. And that’s paying off. The company has been hiring again, and this week, revealed that it has achieved profitability, and for the first time, shared some revenue numbers.

    We had a conversation with CEO Mark Bartels, who took over the role after founder Garrett Camp stepped down last year, but has been with the company since 2008 (he was previously CFO) about StumbleUpon’s growth and strategy moving forward. Don’t expect things to be as quiet as they’ve been so far this year.

    StumbleUpon expects to grow revenue to $35 – 40 million this year, and a significant portion of its revenue is already coming from mobile. In fact, nearly 40% of all stumbles are coming from mobile (up from 20% in 2012). Last year, the company launched some major updates to its mobile apps, which drastically improved the StumbleUpon experience. Expect even more expansion into mobile and other devices, opening up a lot more potential for stumbling (and ultimately opportunities for advertisers and web traffic).

    “We continue to invest in moving beyond desktop – and our mobile-first approach is focused on smartphones and tablets, but also interactive TVs and gaming consoles,” Bartels tells WebProNews. “As we invest in these platforms our revenue continues to increase and this year our mobile share of revenue is 20%, and we expect that number to climb.”

    The new mobile apps included a lot of new features. One of them lets users stumble through content much more quickly, by showing quick previews before the pages finish loading.

    When asked if he attributes the growth in mobile stumbles to any specific feature, and whether the preview feature has affected sponsored content, Bartels tells us, “We have enhanced our overall mobile experience for both iOS and Android operating systems so that the recommendations and textual input we serve up to users is a better experience on small screens, wearable devices or set-top box.”

    “Around one out of every twenty stumbles is sponsored content. Since our over 30 million users interact with paid and unpaid content the same way, we have seen an increase in engagement across the board.”

    The company has over 100,000 advertisers that have created native ads. These include Comedy Central, Relativity Media, Levi’s, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. Advertisers are going to be seeing some new opportunities.

    “StumbleUpon is rolling out new publisher and partner tools that allow advertising on our platforms to be simple and seamless,” Bartels says.

    “Recently we worked with Elle and Harpaar’s Bazaar around New York Fashion Week to engage StumbleUpon users and expand fashion coverage beyond their traditional audiences,” he notes.

    Elle Stumble The Trends

    When asked about the layoffs and how that has affected StumbleUpon’s growth, Bartels says, “The vision remains the same which is to help users discover and explore the best content on the web. We streamlined the company to focus more resources on engineering and product development in order to prioritize internationalization, moving beyond the desktop experience and our advertising platform. We are growing; we are hiring and have expanded to open up a second office in New York.”

    On how the company’s strategy has changed since he took over as CEO, he says, “StumbleUpon’s goal has always been to be the number one discovery tool, and since I have become CEO I have been working on a vision to bring this mission to life across multiple platforms. We are building the next generation of mobile-first products, maximizing personalization technologies and expanding internationally.”

    “In the near future, we will be expanding our mobile reach by releasing our Android app in German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Chinese,” he adds. “iOS is next.”

    Bartels says the company also intends to “continue the migration beyond the website and onto multiple platforms including interactive TVs, gaming devices, publisher sites and APIs.”

    “We predict that online video traffic will be the majority of all consumption by 2016 and mobile will be the driving platform. StumbleUpon will be taking advantage of this trend with new products and ways to discover video content.”

    Like I said, things aren’t going to be quiet at StumbleUpon for much longer.

    While StumbleUpon has continued to drive traffic huge traffic to websites, it sounds like those who are able to capitalize on it might be able to see even greater amounts. Stay tuned.

    Are you still seeing significant traffic from StumbleUpon? Success from its ad platform? Let us know in the comments

    Image: StumbleUpon

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