Imgur: The Next Big Thing?

Gitika Bhatla | @gitika_bhatla

Feeling restricted and annoyed with hard to use image-sharing sites on the Web? Not any more. Gone are the days of living life with compromises, all thanks to Imgur. Like ImageShack and Photobucket, Imgur is also a free image host, but this relatively new platform is way ahead of its competitors in terms of quality, services and features. Before Imgur, there was no place on the Internet to quickly upload and share images (not to be confused with photos), which could be easily cropped, resized and rotated, with no need to compress them forcibly.

Launched in February 2009 by Alan Schaaf while he was a student at Ohio University, Imgur (pronounced Im-uh-jur) has come a long way. It was originally created with the intent to improve the Reddit experience of image sharing, but has actually grown larger than Reddit today.

Surprisingly, what makes Imgur click with its millions of users worldwide is its simplicity - yes, simple image sharing. Users can easily upload and share images using their  photo uploader, browse the gallery for their daily dose of the most popular viral images, vote for them and comment. Imgurians get to play with a lot of options as they can upload/drag and drop images from their computer or a weblink and even create their own memes. It supports any image format – png, gif, jpeg, etc., Imgur is one place for all of them. The cool thing is you don't even need an account for that. And even if you prefer to sign in, you can use your Twitter, Facebook, Google or Yahoo accounts to do so.

Now based in San Francisco, most of its revenue is generated from ad sales, pro accounts and its online store (selling Imgur t-shirts, hoodies, sticker packets, phone covers, mugs and pillows). To engage with its users, Imgur maintains a blog, which talks about latest technology news, tricks with coding, contests, featured images and updates on any new feature introduced by them. They come up with their list of favorite 10 images from the previous month and all the events that made news during that month.memes

 Imgur introduced the Meme Gen app this January, riding on the success of its Meme Generator, which allows users to create their own memes from scratch, build from existing templates, or browse those in gallery and vote for their favorites. Now, with the introduction of Meme Gen App for iOS, Imgurians can create image macros whenever and wherever they feel like.

A standard Imgur account can have up to 225 most recent images. Images beyond 5 MB are compressed and animated GIFs are limited to 5 MB per file. But if you upgrade to a Pro Account, you enjoy more image features, no ads, and better analytics. The new Image Analytics feature helps users keep track of where their images go and what happens to them once they are uploaded. The stats link also gives an hourly breakdown of image popularity.

image_analytics

Voted as the Best Bootstrapped Startup at the 2011 and 2013 Crunchies Awards, Imgur today is one of the fastest growing sites on the net. In 5 years, Imgur has achieved what other startups can only dream of – tremendous growth and a dedicated community of people who are religiously voting, sharing and commenting. The future looks promising and exciting for Alan Schaaf and his team, who plan to make Imgur a household name for viral images.