A Year Out Of Aol, About.Me Looks To Accelerate Growth

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About.me, the webapp that acts as a starting place for your online identity, spun out of Aol after a rumored $35 million acquisition one year ago today. For the past year, the company has focused on engagement, adding a slew of new features like Views, Compliments, Dashboard People Feed, and Collections.

But today, on the one-year anniversary of the company’s buy-back, About.me is shifting gears into user acquisition, with Invites.

“Invite Friends” lets you send invitations to others through email or Facebook so that they join you on the identity-focused platform. For every new user that joins, the person who referred them will get featured on the About.me site.

“I can say with a straight face that I believe About.me will be top 15 consumer internet company, for sure,” said founder Tony Conrad. “I don’t think it’s crazy for us to believe we can hit 10 million profiles in the next 12 months, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we were north of 25 million people on the platform in a three-to-five-year period.”

It sounds ambitious, but considering the growth at About.me in the last year, his trajectory makes sense. When About.me was bought back from Aol last year, there were 1.6 million profiles on the site. Today, there are 4.25 million users, up 264 percent versus 2012. The company generated almost 1 billion page views last year, going from 4 million monthly page views in January 2013 to 148 million page views in December of 2013.

Over the past year, About.me changed a lot, Conrad tells me. As he explained, it used to be a site users visited once, maybe twice a year, to update their online profile and make sure that jumping off point looked good. Other than building the profile page, there was no other reason to visit the site. There was no communication between users; no engagement with the back-end.

But over the course of the year, Conrad and his team slowly introduced new features to bring people back to the site. The first was Compliments, which let users “like” each others’ pages. About.me let users choose the type of compliment they gave, whether it was a professional compliment or a more personal, intimate expression.

Shortly thereafter, the company launched Collections, which turned About.me into a Pinterest for people. Instead of wandering aimlessly about the site, you could organize various people into public or private Collections.

To bring Collections and Compliments together, the company introduced the Dashboard, which included PeopleFeed. This let users see activity on their page, including views, who visited, and who complimented their page. It also surfaced missed connections with people who may have something in common with you, like a hometown or high school.

“There’s a certain, delightful serendipity in finding someone you relate to on About.me, and forging a meaningful connection that you didn’t expect,” said Conrad.

As the year progressed, About.me launched Replies, which lets users respond to activity on their page. For example, if Tony Conrad complimented my About.me profile, I could reply to that compliment with “Thanks” or maybe “Hey let’s get coffee.”

Conrad relayed that About.me is up on all engagement metrics, including Logins (up 656 percent vs 2012) and active users (up 400 percent vs 2012). In fact, other than Antarctica (which isn’t really a country), About.me has users in every single country in the world.

Now, with engagement growing, About.me is shifting into the next phase for the company, building off of this momentum to get even more users on the platform.

Eventually, if all goes as planned, Conrad sees About.me as the identity skeleton of the web. As it stands now, social networks are built for only one version of yourself: there’s Facebook and Instagram for personal connections, Twitter for self-broadcast and news consumption, and LinkedIn for forging professional relationships.

About.me wants to be the skeleton that pulls all those pieces together into one, completed puzzle.

It’s an ambitious goal, but if About.me doesn’t do it, someone eventually will.