25 startups needed to look at (social media)


Launched in 2002 by three 20-somethings in a Calgary, Alberta, apartment, StumbleUpon now has 2 million registered users drawn by its knack for finding websites that match their interests and those of others with similar tastes as they “stumble” around the Net.

Co-founder Garrett Camp (shown right), who totes around a mid-’80s Nikon F3 (yes, with actual film), came up with the idea as he was working on a master’s in software engineering.

Frustrated as he tried to indulge his hobby online – “There wasn’t a good way to find the best photo sites,” Camp says – he tapped his own background in clustering technology. With coding help from Justin LaFrance and Geoff Smith, he created an early version of StumbleUpon. Having nailed the photo problem, the team quickly saw how the technology could click with all sorts of media.

In the same way that it matches users with like-minded websites, StumbleUpon’s technology also pairs online ads with targeted demographics and interests. Now StumbleUpon is attempting to do the same for online video and video advertising. In December the startup launched StumbleVideo, a service that offers the closest thing to channelsurfing that you’ll find on the Web.

Tell us what you think about StumbleUpon’s model: Is it the next MySpace?

Funding: $1.5 million (Ron Conway, Mitch Kapor, Josh Kopelman, Brad O’Neill, Ram Shriram)

Headquarters: San Francisco

Employees: 12

Founded: 2001

Business model: Advertising, subscriptions

Bragging rights: Cash flow positive

Next up: New features like content controls and mobile video recommendations




Slide has developed customizable and easily assembled slide shows of photos that can be embedded in a blog or a MySpace page, sent out in an RSS feed, and streamed to a desktop as a screensaver.

Funding: Not disclosed (Peter Thiel, Vinod Khosla, others)

Founder & CEO: Max Levchin (shown right)

Headquarters: San Francisco

Employees: 45

Founded: 2004

Business model: Advertising, subscription

Bragging rights: Actor Jamie Foxx and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner use Slide on their MySpace pages.

Next up: Doubling staff in 2007; expanding into Asia; adding mobile phone features



Bebo has built a social network, more than 30 million members strong, that keeps users’ pages private but still allows them to share things like video and drawings made on an online whiteboard.

Founders: Michael Birch (also CEO), Xochi Birch (shown right)

Headquarters: San Francisco

Employees: 28

Founded: 2005

Business model: Advertising

Bragging rights: Profitable; advertisers include Disney, Alltel, Dawn and AOL)

Next up: Promoting new Bebo Authors channel (launched Feb. 22); hiring in-house sales team


Meebo lets users manage multiple instant-messaging services from one site. Meebo’s killer app is a widget that places an IM window on your blog or webpage.

Funding: $12.5 million (Draper Fisher, Jurvetson, Sequoia Capital)

Founders: Sandy Jen, Seth Sternberg (also CEO), Elaine Wherry (shown right)

Employees: 12

Business model: Advertising

Bragging rights:: 5.3 million unique instant messenger IDs per month

Next up: Doubling staff in 2007



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