By Alexandra Burlacu email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Jan 13, 2013 12:05 PM EST
Imgur, Reddit's favorite photo hosting site, is becoming increasingly popular and touts over 3.6 billion page views and 56 million unique visitors per month.
Imgur, pronounced "Imager," is one of the Internet's more popular venues for looking at cute cats, amazing sceneries (or "Earthporn," as Imgur users call it), pictures of Emma Watson, and what-not.
The photo hosting site started out with just three people, but it hired more engineers along the way and it is still looking to expand its team. Founder Alan Schaaf launched the site back in 2009 from his dorm room in Ohio, posting on Reddit that he wants to offer "an image hosting service that doesn't suck."
Now, Imgur, "the simple image sharer," has evolved far beyond a simple photo hosting site. It gets more than 255 million visits per month, with the average user spending 11:30 minutes on the site and viewing 14 pages per visit, Imgur told TechCrunch.
Schaaf further told TechCrunch that Imgur's amazing growth was largely due to Reddit's growth last year, but roughly 40 percent of all page views now come from direct visitors to Imgur. In other words, a popular image, animated GIF, or some meme found on Reddit is most likely hosted by Imgur, which obviously fuels Imgur's growth. In addition, an increasing number of users access Imgur specifically, not driven from other sites. Imgur knows that and it wants to be more than Reddit's favorite photo hosting site.
According to Schaaf and Imgur COO Matt Strader, the increase in direct visitors to the site is due to Imgur's new gallery feature that launched in October 2012. In the long run, Imgur wants to become for images what YouTube is for videos: the most popular destination, where one can find virtually anything they desire.
Such endeavors mean that Imgur will likely employ its own meme and animated GIF generators, as well as other content-creation tools to fuel user growth. As Schaaf highlighted in the interview with TechCrunch, Imgur initially saw people creating images, uploading them to the site, and then sharing them on Reddit, Facebook, or other social networking sites. The process evolved soon enough, and now many users upload pictures on Imgur just for Imgur, getting plenty of viral traffic, "upvotes," and comments within the site itself.
Moreover, Imgur users are in for another treat as the company is planning to launch its own mobile app later this month. While a few apps that use Imgur's recently launched API are already available in the market, none of them is official, and each has enough glitches to cast a bit of a shadow on the whole the Imgur mobile experience. With a new mobile app, however, things are about to get better and Imgur will likely see even more visitors and page views.