Today’s second session was a conversation between Mesh organizer Michael McDerment and Garrett Camp. Garrett is a co-founder of StumbleUpon, a social sharing site bought by eBay in 2007 for $75-million.
StumbleUpon’s origins are in Calgary which makes it one of many Canadian web 2.0 success stories; stories that include Flickr and Club Penguin, both of which got their start in Vancouver. At the time of the purchase, StumbleUpon was looking for more venture capital to augment their $1.5-million in working capital.
According to Garrett, StumbleUpon is a tool that best serves visual content and websites. People can share their findings such as a site that a group of us found through StumbleUpon this morning that shows a collection of bad album covers.
eBay allows StumbledUpon to function as a startup within a large organization. This affords Garrett and the team the autonomy to self-direct their development in the best interest of the tool that they built and the spirit in which it has been embraced. It’s refreshing to hear stories about big companies buying startups and letting the founders continue with their vision.
Given my recent experiences with the Ottawa Web Weekend — which was largely about the coming together and collaboration of thirty-six strangers — I find it particularly interesting that Garrett felt he waited too long build the team out. That’s significant when you consider the size of the eBay purchase. His focus now is how to build the team, spread the knowledge and try to build the business to be strong in the same was as Facebook.
Garrett suggested that he’d like to explore social advertising which would target ads to individuals based on recommendations by their StumbleUpon friends. This presents a more obvious fit with eBay.
The session was dry and skewed, heavily, to venture capital and corporate purchase. The key takeaway from that discussion is that the money is in the United States.