Back in the early 2000s, the internet as we know it was still in its infancy. While still young, the nascent World Wide Web was already seeing a lot of content being uploaded. Google had barely broken onto the scene, and without an efficient indexing system, discovering new content on the Internet was rather difficult. In such an environment, a young graduate student at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada had the idea for a unique discovery platform that would help people to find new “cool web pages” online as simply as clicking a button, and StumbleUpon was born in November 2001.
StumbleUpon saw rapid growth in popularity driven by word-of-mouth marketing, and its founder Garrett Camp quickly became one of the earliest big Internet entrepreneurs and success stories. StumbleUpon became the world’s first web-discovery platform and personalized recommendation engine, and Garrett Camp would go on to co-found one of the biggest tech unicorns in the world – Uber. However, with the recent rise of Google and other platforms making content discovery increasingly easy, StumbleUpon has slowly declined in popularity, and Garrett has finally decided to call it quits.
In a blog post published on Medium, Garrett wrote, “Creating StumbleUpon has been an amazing experience. It was the first project I worked on back in college in 2002. I have personally clicked the stumble button hundreds of thousands of times and learned a lot in the process. But it’s now time to focus on the future, and create the next discovery platform that will uncover hidden gems we would never think to search for.” According to Garrett, in its 16 years of functioning, StumbleUpon “has delivered personalized content to over 40 million users, serving up nearly 60 billion stumbles”.
The “next discovery platform” Garrett is referring to is called Mix.com, a product of Expa, the startup studio Garrett set up in 2013. In his blog post, Garrett says that Mix.com “combines social and semantic personalisation into one streamlined experience”, making it easier for people to organise content into collections. According to Garrett, this will make it easier for users to discover new content that interests them, based on recommendations by people they know and trust.
Over the years, StumbleUpon has had a varied history, including being acquired by eBay in 2007 for $75 million before becoming independent again in 2009. The company has been in financial debt since 2015 despite investments over the years from the likes of Accel, DAG Ventures, and August Capital. Garrett writes that StumbleUpon accounts will be moved to Mix over the next couple of months and that the new platform will work on “every browser and smartphone”.