StumbleUpon is adding more avenues to meander through its online content recommendation service.
The renovations, unveiled late Monday as part of a major overhaul, allow StumbleUpon’s 20 million users to be more specific about their interests so they won’t have to wait as long for the service’s technology to figure it out.
For example, users can now tell StumbleUpon to feed them information about specific brands, such as Audi, instead of a general topic such as cars or ask to be steered to the best material from a particular website, such as FunnyorDie.com.
More than 250 brands, actors and sports figures have set up channels under StumbleUpon’s new format. Besides Audi and FunnyorDie.com, StumbleUpon’s initial channel line-up includes AOL Inc., Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN, Tom Hanks and Magic Johnson.
StumbleUpon also has added an “explore” option designed to make it easier to find content with a quick search.
The organizational tools bring a greater sense of direction to StumbleUpon, whose appeal has been tied to its random qualities. The free service, which makes it money from selling ads, got its name from its penchant for leading users down online corridors that they didn’t even know existed.
How StumbleUpon Technology Works
Here’s how the website says its technology works:
“StumbleUpon integrates peer-to-peer and social networking principles with one-click blogging to create an emergent content referral system. Our patent-pending toolbar system automates the collection, distribution and review of web content within an intuitive social framework, providing users with a browsing experience which resembles “channel-surfing” the web. This architecture has easily scaled to millions of users.
“StumbleUpon combines collaborative human opinions with machine learning of personal preference to create virtual communities of like-minded websurfers. Rating websites updates a personal profile (weblog) and generates peer networks of websurfers linked by common interest. These social networks coordinate the distribution of web content, such that users ‘stumble upon’ pages explicitly recommended by friends and peers. This social content discovery approach automates the “word-of-mouth” referral of peer-approved websites and simplifies web navigation.”
More Control for Users, CEO Says
“People are still going to experience serendipity and surprise on StumbleUpon, but they now they are going to have more control,” said StumbleUpon CEO and co-founder Garrett Camp.
To herald the shift, StumbleUpon redesigned its logo. The most glaring change is the logo’s color, now reddish-orange instead of blue and green.
The paint job comes nearly a decade after Camp and some friends started StumbleUpon in Canada before eventually moving to Silicon Valley in 2006. That led to StumbleUpon’s sale in 2007 to eBay Inc. for $75 million. Camp regretted the decision and teamed up with several venture capitalists to buy back StumbleUpon from eBay for an undisclosed amount in 2009.
Since then, StumbleUpon’s audience has tripled, helping the service emerge as one of the Web’s largest catalysts for driving traffic to other sites. StumbleUpon says its recommends more than 1.2 billion pieces of content per month, doubling its volume from a year ago.
Next up: an international expansion for what so far has been an English-only service. The redesign includes technological tweaks that will make it easier to translate StumbleUpon into different languages. StumbleUpon, which is based in San Francisco, expects to expand into France and several other European countries early next year.
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