Two years ago Tony Conrad spun his startup About.me out of Aol after a rumored $35 million acquisition. The service, which offers users a single unified profile page for their digital identity, has grown tremendously in the last year, with over 2.1 billion profile views over the course of the year. Last year, About.me saw nearly 1 billion profile views, representing 257 percent growth from 2013.
Part of this growth has to do with big moves the company made during 2014, including the launches of Email Signature, Backstory, and Intro in the latter half of the year.
Email Signature is a simple feature that puts your About.me profile into your email signature. Plenty of people use their simple About.me url in their signature, but the feature gives you the option to choose from three professional widget-like options. Backstory is another new tool from About.me that focuses somewhat on the professional side of the platform. It lets users add their Resume to the bottom of their About.me profile so that it adds a little extra value for potential employers.
Finally, About.me launched Intro, a mobile app that lets you easily exchange contact information with someone new through About.me’s network.
“Mobile represents one of our biggest challenges, but I think that’s true for a lot of startups,” said Tony Conrad, founder and CEO at About.me. “In terms of creation, our products are so intertwined with a larger keyboard and screen, but in the past we simply haven’t been in a position to have the bandwidth to properly tackle mobile.”
About.me has plans to introduce more mobile tools in 2015 around on-boarding, creation, and even editing.
But it isn’t just the newer products that helped About.me grow in 2014. Older products, like Compliments, Collections, and Direct Messages/Replies are all seeing more engagement than they did in 2013. Compliments are up 278 percent, collections up 256 percent, and replies are up a whopping 617 percent.
These tools are all meant to build engagement on the site, as opposed to bringing on new users. Though it’s easy to set up an About.me profile and point people to it through email, social networks, etc., staying engaged on the platform and returning to the site regularly is a tougher ask. Tools that allow users to engage with one another, discover one another, and communicate have played a big role in changing that over the last year.
The company saw 13 million interactions in total over the year, which is nearly 5x more than 2013.
“We really compete with the general market because some people feel like they already have too many profiles and don’t want to add another,” said Conrad. “But the thing about it is that the wholistic About.me profile is meant to be public, unlike the rest of them, and ends up offering way more discovery options. Plus, we end up being a great partner to companies like Twitter and LinkedIn as opposed to competing with them.”
About.me has a huge opportunity going into 2015 to start focusing on revenue. The platform has matured, engagement is up, and there are plenty of features that About.me users would pay for. For example, About.me could offer premium editing and creation tools to the platform so that users can go above and beyond on their profiles.
Conrad declined to talk about specific plans, but I’d be willing to gamble that About.me’s monetization switch will flip in the next year.