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StumbleUpon Toolbar
File:StumbleUpon logo.png
StumbleUpon Toolbar in Firefox 3.5
Original author(s) Garrett Camp & Geoff Smith[1]
Developer(s) Geoff Smith
Initial release November 2001[2]
Stable release 3.52[3]
Platform Firefox, Seamonkey, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, Google Chrome
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.[4] There is also one-click blogging built in as well.

Toolbar versions exist for Firefox, Mozilla Application Suite, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer, but StumbleUpon also works with some independent Mozilla-based browsers. Third party toolbars have also been created for Safari[5], and Opera[6]



StumbleUpon was founded in November 2001[2] 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."[7]

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.

StumbleUpon was owned by eBay from May 2007, when it was acquired for $75,000,000,[8] until April 2009, when Garrett Camp, Geoff Smith and several investors bought it back.[9]. StumbleUpon is now an independent, investor-backed startup once again, with offices in San Francisco and New York City.

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.


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.


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.

In March 2009, StumbleUpon launched the service. Its primary usage is for Twitter and Facebook statuses and updates.[10] The service is similar to that of and tinyURL. In March through May, the service was only available to people who have gotten an invite code. In June, the service went under public beta. This service has gotten mixed reviews.


StumbleUpon uses knowledge of user preferences to deliver targeted advertising. A small proportion of the "stumbles" users come across (typically less than 2%[citation needed]) 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.


In July 2006 StumbleUpon had 1 million users.[11] According to the StumbleUpon claims to have more than 8,772,000 members as of December 5, 2009. StumbleUpon said that before the end of May 2008, it would have collected its five-billionth "stumble", more than one billion of which would have taken place in 2008 alone.[12]


In May 2007, StumbleUpon was purchased by eBay. Early reports indicated that the company was also in talks with Google before the eBay announcement.[citation needed] In September 2008 eBay hired Deutsche Bank to try to sell StumbleUpon again.[13] On April 13, 2009, founders Garrett Camp and Geoff Smith and other investors including Ram Shriram bought the company.[9][14]

See also


  1. "The StumbleUpon Management Team". StumbleUpon. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Interview with Garrett Camp, StumbleUpon Co-Founder". CenterNetworks. December 12th, 2006. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  3. "StumbleUpon Changelog". Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  5. "Stumbi: A StumbleUpon plugin for Safari". 
  6. "Opera Stumbler: A StumbleUpon Toolbar For Opera". 
  7. "Web 2.0 wonders: StumbleUpon". BBC News. 29 March 2007. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  8. "eBay Acquires StumbleUpon". Business Wire, mirrored at 2007-05-03. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "StumbleUpon's founders buy service back from eBay". Retrieved 2009-04-14. "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." 
  11. Keizer, Gregg (2006-07-18). "StumbleUpon Launches Plug-In For Microsoft Internet Explorer". InformationWeek. Retrieved 2007-02-28. 
  12. Schonfeld, Erick (2008-04-23). "Five Million Users And Nearly Five Billion Stumbles Later". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2008-04-25. 

External links

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