The popular image sharing site Imgur announced on April 3 it had raised US$40 million from Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz in a Series A fundraising round.
Reddit also contributed to the fundraising round in a clear nod to Imgur founder and CEO, Alan Schaaf, who originally built Imgur as a simple image sharer for the link sharing community site.
Imgur said in a statement it plans to use the funding injection to accelerate its internal growth, grow its community worldwide, and drive continued product development and innovation.
For Schaaf, who launched the site in early 2009 while he was still a junior at Ohio University, the funding round comes after five years of growth on a bootstrap budget.
Under his steerage, the site’s traffic has grown to more than 130 million unique visitors per month, with much of that growth initially coming from its close affiliation with Reddit.
"As a company that bootstrapped our way to profitability and had a blast doing it, we really weren't out looking for money at all," said Schaaf.
According to Schaaf, it was only when he started talking to Andreessen Horowitz’s Marc Andreessen and Lars Dalgaard — who will take a Board of Directors seat with Imgur — that the possibilities from a funding partnership arose.
"Lars completely gets what we're trying to accomplish, and has pledged to help us conquer the internet. The only sad part is that we won't be eligible for any more Best Bootstrapped Startup [TechCrunch] Crunchies," said Schaaf.
For Dalgaard, who is general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, the community-building strength Imgur has displayed over the past five years has been impressive.
"It's rare to see a company so committed to preserving an excellent user experience, and it's no accident that this community has flourished," said Dalgaard. "We hope to provide resources and guidance to help Imgur continue down this path, with the freedom to do even more to accelerate product innovation and community growth."
For Schaaf, it has been this commitment to building its online community and maintaining a positive user experience that lies at the centre of the site's success and its future endeavours in partnership with Andreessen Horowitz.
"We've always put community first, and in doing so have built and maintained an authentic experience that's grown organically,” said Schaaf. “Partnering with Andreessen Horowitz is an incredible opportunity to take the next step.
"Lars is so passionate about Imgur, and we felt that from the first time we sat down. We're already feeling the impact of this partnership. We're thrilled to move ahead and continue to build an amazing experience for our community."