Back in 2009, when Alan Schaaf was a junior at Ohio University, he built the photo-sharing site Imgur for the Reddit community, debuting it on the social network as his "gift to Reddit." Fast forward five years, and Imgur is a profitable company and home to more than 650 million images. Though its photos can be seen across social networks, the startup hasn't forgotten its roots. On Thursday, Imgur announced it raised $40 million in a series-A round led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from Reddit.
"For the first time we have a formal relationship with [Reddit], so it will be exciting to start working on projects together that will have a positive impact on both communities," Schaaf told Fast Company. This marks Reddit's first investment to be made public. Reddit's senior vice president of strategic partnerships Ellen Pao says the company invested in another product partner recently, but the financing has not yet been announced.
As a profitable, bootstrapped company, San Francisco-based Imgur has thus far relied on advertising revenue. However, Schaaf said this round of fundraising will give Imgur the opportunity to work with Andreessen Horowitz and scale the company. As part of the deal, Lars Dalgaard, a general partner at the firm, will join Imgur's board. "We are looking forward to having their support as we look to scale and conquer the Internet," Schaaf said.
In January, Imgur launched an analytics tool for brands, advertisers, and individuals to measure the performance of images across various networks and websites over time--in essence, positioning the company as its own social platform.
[Image: Flickr user Orin Zebest]