Imgur (pronounced Imager) is an image hosting website that has more than one million images uploaded daily and more than 130 million unique visitors participating in image sharing. It all started in Athens, Ohio when Ohio University student Alan Schaaf wanted to create a user-friendly website that was content-rich and interactive. Imgur is described as “the home to the web’s most popular image content, curated in real time by a dedicated community through commenting, voting and sharing.”
Schaaf came up with the idea for the site after spending time on the online community Reddit discussing how hard it is to find good images online. With the desire to make something that “doesn’t suck,” and as a gift to the Reddit community, Schaaf created the image hosting site that garnered a million views within the first five months (and much of that is thanks to Reddit). In 2011, Imgur left Ohio for San Francisco to ensconce itself in the Internet startup world.
Imgur was originally donation-based, but its growth spurt sprung additional revenue from display ads that were introduced in May 2009. In just five years the growth has paid off. This week, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz gave Imgur $40 million – money Schaaf and others claimed they weren’t seeking back in January. However, this investment allows Imgur to hire more people and build its brand.
But what brings Schaaf and his crew the most excitement is striking a deal with Reddit, which is also investing in Imgur but with an undisclosed amount. Because most of Imgur’s hits still come from Reddit users, Schaaf sees this as a way to strengthen his relationship with a group of people that gave him his success.
“We know those guys at Reddit, we’ve played board games with them,” he says. “But to have a real partnership on paper now is great.”