StumbleUpon passed the 25 million user mark earlier this week — that’s about one million users every month since it announced it had reached 20 million users in October.
The discovery service has existed in some form since 2001. It accepted its first round of funding in 2006, was purchased by eBay in 2007 and became independent again in 2009.
At that point, it had about 5.5 million registered users. It’s been growing at a lightning rate since, nearly quadrupling its userbase in three years.
“For all intents and purposes this is a new company since the spin out from eBay,” StumbleUpon VP of Business Development and Marketing Marc Leibowitz tells Mashable. “Virtually all of the 120 employees we have today have joined since then [when there were about 30 employees].”
Leibowitz also cites the launch of a web-based service and mobile apps as contributing to StumbleUpon’s post-eBay growth. Previously, StumbleUpon had been available solely through a browser extension, and it didn’t launch its Android and iOS apps until August 2010 — fairly late in the mobile game.
Today, about 20% of the 1.2 billion Stumbles made per month are made on mobile phones.
BranchOut, a startup that builds a LinkedIn-style social network on Facebook, recently reached as many users in about two years as StumbleUpon has in 11 years.
But at its current growth rate, StumbleUpon could be on its way to some major mainstream recognition.
The recommendation engine, by one StatCounter study’s measure, is already responsible for referring more traffic to websites than any other social network in the U.S. It has more than 75,000 advertisers. And its users are active — according to Leibowitz, on average they spend about seven hours every month hitting the Stumble button.
Meanwhile, StumbleUpon has been busy building features that already come with mainstream social networks. A redesign in December added brand channels, which are somewhat equivalent to Facebook brand pages in that they create a profile for marketers separate from personal profiles. About 250 organizations have launched free channels since.
StumbleUpon also plans to launch an API that helps power third-party products’ recommendation features. The company also wants to create international versions of its own discovery engine (only 15% of Stumblers are currently based outside of North America). Meanwhile, you can expect to see more social features.
“I think StumbleUpon is often the source of content that goes viral on other social networks,” Leibowitz says. “But I don’t think we’ve done a great job of creating a viral loop.
“Content is launched into other social networks, but we don’t do a particularly good job of capturing the content around that into StumbleUpon.”
Bonus Gallery: Stumble Into StumbleUpon’s San Francisco Office
Engaging Office Life
“This is the first job I’ve ever had where it is fun to go to work everyday.” – Jack Krawczyk, Sr. Product Marketing Manager.
This StumbleUpon banner hangs above the design team.
Never a Dull Moment
“Sense of humor” is one of the job requirements for working at StumbleUpon, and employees have fun while getting work done.
Discovering New Talent
Every few months, StumbleUpon hosts a new artist’s work and holds an art exhibition for them to share that work with others.
After the month is over, the company votes on the different pieces and selects one piece to purchase and keep as part of its permanent collection.
Breakfast and lunch are catered each day. The day we came by, the team was feasting on Korean tacos.
StumpleUpon’s caterer Rebecca Jean has been feeding the company since its beginnings. Her catering business has grown along with StumbleUpon, and employees look forward to the times she’s able to stop by the office and visit personally.
Bender J. Bending Rodriguez
An electrical box in the hallway has this picture of Bender from Futurama around it.
Discovery in the Conference Room
The art in each meeting room corresponds to the life and work of the person to whom the room is an homage. This room, in honor of Renaissance scientist Galileo, has a working telescope that you can use to check out the stars.
Hands on with Inventions
Symbolizing scientist Louis Pasteur’s strides in developing modern microbiology, this working microscope and set of slides are on a bookcase in the room named after him.
The Edison room, an homage to prolific 20th century inventor Thomas Edison, contains several baskets of Edison light bulbs.
Even More Inventions!
The Newton room, unsurprisingly, focuses on Isaac Newton — including a nod to the legendary apple that inspired the physicist to develop theories on gravity.
What would a room named after 19th century naturalist and developer of the theory of evolution Charles Darwin be without monkeys?
Discovering New Ideas…
Employees can post an idea they have on the Wall of Ideas to share them with the team and promote more collaborative thinking.
Other employees can give an idea thumbs up or down based on whether or not they like it.
StumbleUpon has an air hockey, foosball, ping pong and pool table for employees looking to relax.
Make Your Own Tunes
A music room in the office includes a guitar and drum set for employees to rock out.
A room for phone calls on the third utilizes some classic imagery from PacMan.
A living wall on the third floor has plants growing out of it.
Many employees bike to work, storing their wheels together on this bike rack.
StumbleUpon also offers free parking for employees and a $100 Uber credit per month.
Just in case you get sweaty, StumbleUpon’s offices have a shower room.
“Working with the people here is awesome. They’re all really sharp.” – Anoakie Turner, Software Architect.
StumbleUpon’s offices are located very close to AT&T park, where the San Francisco Giants play.