It is the internet’s favourite sharing service for comedy photos and quirky images, but Imgur is now reportedly at the centre of some very grown-up negotiations that could see it bought by Yahoo.
Talks between Yahoo and Imgur began this autumn, according to a source talking to Business Insider, but this would be just the latest statement acquisition by Yahoo’s chief executive Marissa Mayer.
Since leaving Google in 2012, Mayer has bought dozens of popular web startups, including paying $US1.1bn for blogging site Tumblr and £18m for news app Summly.
With more than 100 million users, and generating money through ads and image-hosting services for companies as well as recently tested sponsored images, Imgur would be a significant addition to Yahoo’s stable of consumer services.
What is Imgur?
Imgur is an image hosting and sharing site, favoured by users of social media and social news sites including Reddit, Twitter and Digg because of its ease of use and flexibility.
It hosts images for free in various formats, including animated Gif files, supported by advertising, with paid-for professional accounts available.
Those images are kept online for free, only deleted if the image is not accessed at least once during any six-month period.
Users of the site can post comments, use tools to create new images and then share those images with both Imgur users and the wider internet.
Despite being written as “Imgur”, the site’s name is actually pronounced “imager”, which makes sense given it is an image upload, sharing and hosting site. But it seems that almost no one realises that.
Born in February 2009 as a ‘gift to Reddit’
Imgur was conceived as a side project for “an image-hosting service that doesn’t suck” by Alan Schaaf, then a computer science student at Ohio University, who was fed up with the slow, laborious and limited image-hosting solutions available at the time.
“I got fed up with all the other image hosts out there so I made my own. It doesn’t force you to compress your images, and it has neat things like crop, resize, rotate, and compression from 10-100. It’s my gift to you. Let’s not see anymore imageshack/photobucket around here ;)”, said Schaaf in a posting on social news site Reddit at the time.
From thousands to millions in months
Imgur became wildly popular in a very short space of time, going from thousands of visits a day to millions within five months, mainly fuelled by its adoption by social news sites Reddit and Digg.
Donations didn’t cut it
The rapid expansion meant the donation-funded model Schaaf initially set out with was thrown out the window within three months of launching, instead relying on advertising and merchandising to fund server and running costs.
In three short years, Imgur had started to surpass all image hosting rivals, and decided to step operations up a notch by moving the startup company to San Francisco to expand and acquire talent, now operating with a small staff of around 10 employees.
Powered by Amazon
Having bounced around various web hosting services including Voxel, Imgur finally landed on Amazon’s web services platform in 2011, its fifth hosting web hosting service in three years that provided the scale now required.
Bigger and bigger
And vast scale is certainly required. In 2012, 300m images were uploaded to Imgur, with 364bn image views and over 42PB data transferred over the internet. As of June 2013, Imgur had grown even bigger, with over 1m images uploaded daily, with 3.5bn monthly views from over 70 million visitors, and recently announced that it had crossed the 100 million user barrier, making Imgur bigger than Reddit.
Known for its humorous spirit, Imgur has a history of playing April fools pranks, or activating funny features starting with the “Catification” released in 2011, which allowed users to instantly add cats to images uploaded to the Imgur site with a single click.
Another highlight was the announcement in 2013 that Imgur was implementing a feature where users could upload images using the traditional postal service to “appeal to a broad user base which includes film users, the computer illiterate, and those afraid of radiation from scanners,” something the site eventually honoured, uploading images received via snail mail.
What is the Imguraffe?
The official mascot of Imgur is the Imguraffe — a giraffe with a top hat and monocle — which started life as an April Fools’ Day joke called “the simple Imguraffe sharer” but was “too cute to give up” according to the Imgur staff and so was given a permanent position in 2012.
The first content creation tool produced by Imgur, the “Meme Generator” was released in June 2013 fostering humorously captioned images, allowing users to apply custom text to a wide variety of images to poke fun at daily life and create new internet memes.
The Imgur image fun isn’t limited to the desktop. Not only does Imgur have a solid mobile website, the site released Android and iPhone apps in 2013, which included the full functionality of the desktop site tailored for the modern smartphone.
• Summly entrepreneur Nick D’Aloisio explains why he ‘maintains a level of humbleness’
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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