Canadian start-up StumbleUpon recently landed funding from luminary technology angels including Mitch Kapor and Ram Shriram. Geoff Smith, cofounder of StumbleUpon, and author of the Firefox Plug-in, describes the service as follows:
StumbleUpon lets you “channelsurf” the best-reviewed sites on the web. It is a collaborative surfing tool for browsing, reviewing and sharing great sites with like-minded people. This helps you find interesting web pages you wouldn’t think to search for.
The service has been in the making for nearly four years, but has recently experienced a surge of interest. Last I heard, they have nearly 875,000 people using the tool. More importantly perhaps, is that their users seem to demonstrate a cult-like, passion for the service akin to drug-addiction. Fellow web-slinger, Pete Cashmore effectively captures the “StumbleUpon effect” as follows:
…it’s just so darned addictive – once you Stumble, you just can’t stop. What’s more, it’s incredibly accessible to the mainstream demographic – while mining the social bookmarking sites for gems takes a lot of work, Stumbling takes no effort whatsoever.
Pete is not the only one that has “stumbled” upon StumbleUpon. According to a reviewer from PCPro:
I’m hooked on the thing, and rate it as the second most useful web browsing tool after Google itself.
This type of comment should not be taken lightly and is consistent with the idea that discovery could be the new search. Recall that there was a time when search was considered secondary to the portal experience.
I strongly believe that this service is just the tip of the discovery iceberg. As people demand better mechanisms to effectively sate their penchant for the “kind of know what I am looking for” class of queries online, more effective discovery tools – like StumbleUpon – will undoubtedly continue to emerge. I suppose only time will tell, fan-boys. For more information pertaining to StumbleUpon, check-out this post by the ever-vigilant Om Malik.