How Imgur LOL’ed Ahead Of Reddit And The New York Times In Monthly Visitors

A hundred million people per month are not wrong. Exploring what the web wants.

How Imgur LOL’ed Ahead Of Reddit And The New York Times In Monthly Visitors
[Image: Flickr user Diastème]

A hundred million unique visitors per month. Two billion daily image views. This is what happens when you solve an Internet-wide problem.


It’s just funny that the solution sprang from one of the Interweb’s most ridiculously vibrant places–Reddit.

“In the beginning, only Redditors were using [Imgur] because it was fixing a problem I was trying to solve for Reddit,” Imgur founder and CEO Alan Schaaf told VentureBeat. “But what I ended up realizing is that this isn’t just a problem for Reddit–this is a problem for the entire Internet.”

What was the Redditor’s riddle?

Redditors needed a simple tool for uploading and sharing images on the front page of the Internet, which, frustratingly, didn’t yet exist.

By being that super easy image-hosting solution, Imgur has now become one of the 30 most-visited sites in the U.S.–sandwiched between Netflix and IMDB, as well as conspicuosuly ahead of the New York Times and Reddit.

Now that Imgur has lightning–or at least LOLs–in a bottle, what’s the next thing for the company to do with its beastly traffic? The 10-person concern is growing in a few ways:

A meme in its natural environment
  • It just released a mobile app.
  • It made a meme generator, great if you never want to get any work done.
  • And it is working on a GIF generator, though Schaaf doesn’t want to give anything away.

But what Imgur is not concerned about is revenue.

“Honestly, I could care less about business development,” Schaaf told VentureBeat. “As long as we continue to bring in more traffic, I’m much more concerned with building a good user experience and developing tools that will help grow the Imgur community of users.”

It sounds crazy, but it might be crazy enough to work: That same single-mindedness has been attached to Tumblr founder David Karp. To one longtime friend and colleague, Tumblr was a “one-person product,” with Karp investing all his energy in “driving the product forward” and letting the numbers sort themselves out later.

But Schaaf will focus on the business side one day, he says. Once Imgur is a household name.

Bottom Line: If you build something the Internet needs, it will thank you with pageviews. And memes.

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.