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StumbleUpon Logo.svg
Type of site
Website ranking and discovery
Available inEnglish
OwnerStumbleUpon, Inc.
Founder(s)Garrett Camp & Geoff Smith[1]
URLArchived official website at the Wayback Machine (archive index)
LaunchedNovember 2001; 21 years ago (2001-11)[2]
Current statusDefunct (June 2018)
Content license
Proprietary freeware

StumbleUpon was[3][4][5] a discovery and advertisement engine (a form of web search engine) that pushed web content recommendations to its users. Its features allowed users to discover and rate Web pages, photos and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing, social-networking and advertising (sponsored pages) principles. The service shut down in June 2018.

Toolbar versions existed for Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer, and Safari. StumbleUpon also worked with some independent Mozilla-based browsers.

Native mobile StumbleUpon apps existed for Windows,[6] iOS,[7] Android,[8] and the Amazon Appstore.[9]


StumbleUpon was founded in November 2001[2] by Garrett Camp, Geoff Smith, Justin LaFrance and Eric Boyd during Camp's time in graduate school at the University of Calgary. The idea of creating a company was established before the content: of the five or six ideas for products, StumbleUpon was chosen. Camp 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."[10]

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 Tim Ferriss, Ram Shriram (Google), Mitch Kapor (Mozilla Foundation), First Round Capital and Ron Conway. Ferriss, Camp and Geoff Smith all lived in San Francisco, where StumbleUpon was headquartered.[citation needed]

There were 9,238 total unique visits to social sharing sites from August 1, 2011, to January 30, 2013, among which 3,565 (38%) were via social referral, including 2,290 (64% of total social referral) from StumbleUpon, 365 (10% of total social referral) from Facebook, and 36 (1% of total social referral) from Twitter.[11]

StumbleUpon was owned by eBay from May 2007, when it was acquired for $75 million,[12][13] until April 2009, when Garrett Camp, Geoff Smith and other investors including Ram Shriram bought it back.[14][15]

In September 2012, StumbleUpon released an update for its iOS app that brought the new feature "StumbleDNA," which aggregates content that was recommended for the user, trending content as well as a section where the user could view the activity of their StumbleUpon connections.[16]

On September 25, 2012, StumbleUpon released a redesign of its website in beta, and extended it to all users on October 24.[17]

On January 16, 2013, StumbleUpon confirmed it had laid off 30% of their staff from 110 to 75 employees.[18]

On September 24, 2013, StumbleUpon acquired 5by, a video discovery app founded by Greg Isenberg.[19]

In August 2015, StumbleUpon was in financial debt and was re-acquired by Garrett Camp, who re-gained a majority share of the company.[20]

StumbleUpon was shut down in June 2018 and its accounts were transitioned to, another content discovery venture built in part through Camp's studio startup company, Expa.[4][5][3][21]

Service details[edit]

Information Model for StumbleUpon's user profile

StumbleUpon used collaborative filtering (an automated process combining human opinions with machine learning of personal preference) to create virtual communities of like-minded Web surfers. Ratings of websites updated a personal profile (a blog-style record of rated sites) and generated peer networks of web surfers linked by common interest. These social networks coordinated the distribution of web content, so that users could "stumble upon" pages explicitly recommended by friends and peers. Giving a site a thumbs up resulted in the site being placed under the user's "favorites". Furthermore, users had the ability to stumble their personal interests like "History" or "Games".

Users rated a site by giving it a thumbs up, thumbs down selection on the StumbleUpon toolbar, and could optionally leave additional commentary on the site's review page, which also appeared on the user's blog. Content that was "stumbled upon" was informed by users' stated preferences, the thumbs up and down of their friends, and demographic information, among other factors the company did not fully disclose.[citation needed]

In the settings section of StumbleUpon, users could further filter the types of webpages. There were interest filters which allowed users to include only content suitable for all ages, R-rated content, or X-rated content. Users could also choose to allow stumbles with audio, video, flash and images.

On October 24, 2011, StumbleUpon deleted years' worth of user-generated content, and removed HTML blogging, standalone blog posts, and photoblogging capabilities. Additionally, all previous blog posts were converted from HTML to plain text, and all photos were deleted from previous blog posts. StumbleUpon stated, "Over time, we’ve come to realize that we are not able to support and scale a blogging platform, in addition to our recommendation engine."[22]


On December 13, 2006, StumbleUpon launched their StumbleVideo site.[23] The new site allowed users without a toolbar to "stumble" through all the videos that toolbar users had submitted and rate them using an Ajax interface. The site aggregated videos from CollegeHumor, DailyMotion, FunnyOrDie, Google, MetaCafe, MySpace, Vimeo and YouTube.[citation needed]

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


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

As of June 13, 2010, sites using StumbleThru included, Blogger,,, CollegeHumor,,,,,,, PhysOrg, Rolling Stone, Scientific American, The Onion, Wikipedia,, WordPress and YouTube.

The StumbleThru service allowed registered users to stumble on specific sites like the ones listed above, rather than the entire Web.[edit]

In March 2009, StumbleUpon launched, a URL shortening service. It is primarily used to link to Twitter and Facebook statuses and updates.[24] This service is similar to that of and TinyURL. From March through May 2009, the service was only available to people who had received an invite code, but later, it was made available to all StumbleUpon users. In 2013, StumbleUpon discontinued the service to focus more on their lists feature.[25]


Paid Discovery was StumbleUpon's ad system. With Paid Discovery, an advertiser's URL (website, video, etc.) became part of the Stumble stream.

Up to 5% of all stumbles were reserved for Paid Discovery where the advertisers directly inserted their web page into the user experience. This meant the audience landed directly on their web pages, videos and photos. Users could also provide feedback (thumbs up / thumbs down) on this content.[26]

Since Paid Discovery sent visitors directly to the advertiser's page, there was no need to create an ad; the advertiser's web page was the ad. When an ad was delivered to a user, a green icon or “Sponsored” would appear in the toolbar or mobile app, denoting a paid stumble. StumbleUpon did not serve typical display ad formats, such as pop-ups, interstitials or banners.

Advertisers had different options for how quickly and how many users they could reach with their content, depending on their marketing objectives. Serving priority dictated the order in which their web page was considered for placement, based on available inventory.

According to a 2013 fourth quarter Shareaholic's Social Media Traffic Report, StumbleUpon accounted for more publisher traffic than YouTube, Reddit, Linkedin and Google combined. Over 100,000 publishers, brands and marketers use StumbleUpon's advertising and content distribution platform in order to promote their products and services. By 2014, StumbleUpon was serving over 125 million brand and publisher sponsored placements per month.[27]


StumbleUpon said in April 2008 that it had 5 million users, and by the end of May it would collect its five-billionth "stumble", more than one billion of which would have taken place during 2008.[28] StumbleUpon claimed to have more than 10 million members as of 18 May 2010.[29] In August 2011, StumbleUpon reached the 25 billion stumble mark, at which point they were adding over 1 billion stumbles per month. In April 2012, StumbleUpon announced that it had over 25 million registered users.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The StumbleUpon Management Team". StumbleUpon. Archived from the original on February 10, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Interview with Garrett Camp, StumbleUpon Co-Founder". CenterNetworks. December 12, 2006. Archived from the original on August 31, 2009. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Sawers, Paul (May 24, 2018). "StumbleUpon is closing down after 16 years". VentureBeat. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Goodbye, StumbleUpon, one of the last great ways to find good things online". The Verge. May 24, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "SU is moving to Mix". Garrett Camp. May 23, 2018.
  6. ^ "StumbleUpon for Windows 8 and Windows RT". Retrieved March 16, 2013.
  7. ^ "StumbleUpon for iOS". iTunes. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  8. ^ "StumbleUpon on Android Market". Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  9. ^ "StumbleUpon for Amazon Appstore". Amazon. Retrieved December 29, 2011.
  10. ^ Waters, Darren (March 29, 2007). "Web 2.0 wonders: StumbleUpon". BBC News. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  11. ^ Zhang, Sonya; Cabage, Neal (April 3, 2017). "Search Engine Optimization: Comparison of Link Building and Social Sharing". Journal of Computer Information Systems. 57 (2): 148–159. doi:10.1080/08874417.2016.1183447. ISSN 0887-4417.
  12. ^ "eBay Acquires StumbleUpon". May 3, 2007. Archived from the original on July 7, 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2007.
  13. ^ Arrington, Michael (April 18, 2008). "eBay Acquiring StumbleUpon". Retrieved April 3, 2011.
  14. ^ Arrington, Michael (September 18, 2008). "That Was Fun, But Now Ebay's Selling Off StumbleUpon". Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  15. ^ "StumbleUpon's founders buy service back from eBay". Archived from the original on August 26, 2011. Retrieved April 14, 2009. The founders, Garrett Camp and Geoff Smith, bought the company back with the help of investors including Ram Shriram of Sherpalo Ventures, Accel Partners, and August Capital, they said. Financial terms were not disclosed.
  16. ^ Ha, Anthony (September 19, 2012). "StumbleUpon Revamps iOS App With Improved Navigation, Page Previews, And 'StumbleDNA'".
  17. ^ "StumbleUpon releases new site redesign in beta, featuring Pinterest-like stumbles and lists". The Next Web. Retrieved September 25, 2012.
  18. ^ "StumbleUpon Lays Off 30% Of Staff As It Restructures Company Into A Profitable State". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  19. ^ "In Its First Acquisition, StumbleUpon Buys Video Recommendation Startup 5by". TechCrunch. September 24, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  20. ^ "Co-Founder Garrett Camp Buys Back Majority Share In StumbleUpon". TechCrunch. August 26, 2015.
  21. ^ Carson, Biz (August 1, 2018). "Uber Cofounder Garrett Camp Is Back To An Old Problem: Finding Interesting Things On The Internet". Forbes. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  22. ^ "Account Changes FAQ". Retrieved December 10, 2011.
  23. ^ "StumbleUpon Video". Archived from the original on July 23, 2018. Retrieved March 1, 2007.
  24. ^ Ferriss, Tim (June 9, 2009). "Exclusive First Look: SU.PR – Stumble Upon's New Traffic Builder". Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  25. ^ Finn, Greg (July 3, 2013). "So Long, StumbleUpon's Link Shortener Shuts Down For Good". Marketing Land. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  26. ^ "StumbleUpon Stumbles On With Paid Discovery". Online Media Daily. November 14, 2011. Archived from the original on August 30, 2019.
  27. ^ "StumbleUpon Expands National Sales Team to Meet Native Advertising and Content Marketing Demand". IT Business Net. February 19, 2014. Archived from the original on June 12, 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2014.
  28. ^ Schonfeld, Erick (April 23, 2008). "Five Million Users And Nearly Five Billion Stumbles Later". TechCrunch. Retrieved April 25, 2008.
  29. ^ "StumbleUpon Quietly Signs Up 10 Millionth User". TechCrunch. May 18, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2012.

External links[edit]