Like Twitter, AddToAny turns five years old this week. It doesn’t garner even a fraction of the attention that venture-backed competitors like Clearspring (AddThis), Gigya and ShareThis do, but it has definitely put its stake in the social sharing widget ground.
Note: the above-cited rivals have raised roughly $90 million combined, while AddToAny has never taken outside financing since it was founded back in 2006.
Still, the AddToAny button is one of the most distributed widgets on the web, and according to the company the most distributed widget from a bootstrapped startup. AddToAny is now even a lucrative business, and has gotten to that point without spending a dime on marketing.
How is the service monetized? AddToAny sells (anonymous) aggregate sharing data, which is used by clients to increase the relevancy of their ads. Income has been admittedly small, but revenue projections for 2012 range in the seven figures.
Being one of the first to offer a social sharing and bookmarking widget for website publishers has helped AddToAny a lot to get where they are now, but there’s more to it than that.
Founder Pat Diven II says he has never felt the need to raise outside funding, although he reckons it might be fairly easy to secure financing if he wanted to. That said, he started AddToAny as a side project and, going forward, wants to keep things simple and stable first and foremost. That strategy has worked wonders for the service given its steady growth rate.
Diven II says that there have been many serious and casual buy-out offers over the years, but that the focus remains squarely on the user and publisher experience rather than ‘exiting’.
Today, AddToAny handles over a billion widget loads and millions of shares every month, and boasts a total reach of over 100 million visitors.
And what has Diven II concluded based on that wealth of data? That over 60 percent of all sharing activity is not to Facebook, Twitter, or email, meaning that (what the entrepreneur calls) “me-too, niche, long-tail, and non-U.S. sharing destinations” still matter.
Add to Any’s “Share/Save” and “Subscribe” widgets let website visitors share and save pages using any service, and subscribe to RSS feeds using any feed reader. Widgets contain a searchable menu of every applicable service, with the most popular displayed by default. In June 2008, Add to Any released the ‘Smart Menu’ update to the widgets. This original feature automatically detects the services each visitor uses and places those services first in the menus. Launched in early March 2006, Add...