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StumbleUpon Toolbar

StumbleUpon Toolbar in Firefox 2.0
Design by Geoff Smith[1]
Developed by eBay since May 2007
Latest release 3.28[2]
Platform Firefox, Seamonkey, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera
Type Web site ranking and discovery
License Proprietary freeware

StumbleUpon is an Internet community that allows its users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos. It is a personalized recommendation engine which uses peer and social-networking principles.

Web pages are presented when the user clicks the "Stumble!" button on the browser's toolbar. StumbleUpon chooses which Web page to display based on the user's ratings of previous pages, ratings by his/her friends, and by the ratings of users with similar interests. Users can rate or choose not to rate any Web page with a thumbs up or thumbs down, and clicking the Stumble button resembles "channel-surfing" the Web. StumbleUpon also allows their users to indicate their interests from a list of nearly 500 topics to produce relevant content for the user.[3] There is also one-click blogging built in as well.

Toolbar versions exist for Firefox, Mozilla Application Suite and Internet Explorer, but also works with some independent Mozilla-based browsers. Third party toolbars have also been created for Safari[4] and Opera.[5]

eBay acquired StumbleUpon in May 2007 for $75,000,000.[6]


[edit] History

StumbleUpon was founded by Garrett Camp, Geoff Smith, Justin LaFrance, and Eric Boyd during Garrett's time in post-graduate school in Calgary, Canada. The idea of creating a company was established before the content: of the five or six ideas for products, StumbleUpon was chosen. Garrett describes in a BBC interview the moment for him in which he felt the company had really taken off: "When we passed the half a million mark (in registered users), it seemed more real."

The popularity of the software attracted Silicon Valley investor Brad O'Neill to take notice of the company and assist with a move to San Francisco, as well as bringing in subsequent fund-raising totaling $1.2 million from other angel investors including Ram Shriram (Google), Mitch Kapor (Mozilla Foundation), First Round Capital, and Ron Conway. Garrett Camp and Geoff Smith now reside in San Francisco, where StumbleUpon is headquartered.

[edit] Service details

StumbleUpon uses collaborative filtering (an automated process combining human opinions with machine learning of personal preference) to create virtual communities of like-minded Web surfers. Rating Web sites updates a personal profile (a blog-style record of rated sites) and generates peer networks of Web surfers linked by common interest. These social networks coordinate the distribution of Web content, so that users "stumble upon" pages explicitly recommended by friends and peers.

Users rate a site by giving it a thumbs up, thumbs down selection on the StumbleUpon toolbar, and can optionally leave additional commentary on the site's review page, which also appears on the user's blog. This social content discovery approach automates the "word-of-mouth" referral of peer-approved Web sites and simplifies Web navigation.

Stumblers also have the ability to rate and review each others' blogs and join interest groups, which are community forums for specific topics. Users can post comments in the manner of a discussion board in these groups and post links to Web sites that apply to the specific topic.

[edit] StumbleVideo

On December 13, 2006 StumbleUpon launched their StumbleVideo site at The new site allows users without a toolbar to "stumble" through all the videos that toolbar users have submitted and rate them using an AJAX interface. The site currently aggregates videos from YouTube, Google Video, Metacafe, and MySpace Videos.

StumbleUpon launched a version of StumbleVideo for the Internet Channel Web browser that runs on the Wii console on February 12, 2007. This version of StumbleVideo is optimized for the Wii's smaller screen resolution and offers similar functionality to that of the original version.

[edit] StumbleThru

In April 2007 StumbleUpon launched the StumbleThru service, allowing users of the toolbar to stumble within sites such as The Onion, Public Broadcasting Service and Wikipedia. According to the announcement of the feature, StumbleUpon plans on adding additional Web sites in the future.

[edit] Advertising

StumbleUpon uses knowledge of user preferences to deliver targeted advertising. A small proportion of the "stumbles" users come across (typically less than 2%) are sponsored pages matching their topics of interest. For example, those signed up for photography will occasionally see an ad related to photography. Such content is vetted by humans for "quality and relevance" prior to its delivery. A sponsored site is identifiable by a green "person" logo on the toolbar. Paid accounts (referred to as "Sponsors") have a variety of options, including the ability to turn off such advertising.

[edit] Success

In July 2006 StumbleUpon had 1 million users.[7] According to the homepage, StumbleUpon has more than 7,242,747 members as of March 09 2009. Before the end of May 2008, StumbleUpon says that it will have collected its five-billionth "stumble", more than one billion of which have taken place in 2008 alone.[8]

[edit] eBay

In May 2007 StumbleUpon was purchased by eBay. Early reports indicated they were also in talks with Google before the eBay announcement. A year and a half later (September 2008) eBay has hired Deutsche Bank to try to sell StumbleUpon again. Although the number of registered users has grown steadily, the number of visitors has declined from 4.4 million to 1.3 million between July 2007 and July 2008. [9]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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