A more controlled stumbling with StumbleUpon channels

December 6, 2011

It’s been two-and-half years since online social media service StumbleUpon hit the eject button from eBay, its one-time corporate parent.

Since then, the company has grown its users and its staff. The San Francisco-based company now has 100 employees (25 percent of whom are former Googlers, the company says), up from 30 employees at the time of the eBay spin-off.

And the service, which lets users discover interesting Web content that has been flagged by friends and people with similar interests, now counts 20 million registered users, compared to 10 million about one year ago.

Now StumbleUpon is rolling out what it claims is its biggest post-eBay change yet, with the launch of a revamped website design and the introduction “channels.”

By offering specialized channels, StumbleUpon will allow users to fine-tune the stream of Web content that they see on the service.  A user’s StumbleUpon stream should become a little more relevant, founder and CEO Garrett Camp explained during a recent visit to the company’s SF headquarters.

For example, if someone is interested in a particular celebrity – such as actor Tom Hanks – rather than information about celebrities in general, they can follow the Tom Hanks channel. Result: Tom Hanks-related content is sure to be included in that person’s stream of Web content.

There will initially be about 250 channels, representing various celebrities and brands such as the History Channel, Funny or Die and ESPN Sports Center, said Camp, with more to come.

StumbleUpon — which was started as a grad-school project by Camp way back in 2001 — was one of the first services to recognize the power of the crowd as an alternative to search engines for finding interesting Web content.

Today of course, fast-growing social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have become crucial tools that many people rely on to find online information, from news articles to videos.

With its latest revamp, StumbleUpon is out to prove that it can be a relevant player in today’s world of social networking heavyweights.


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