Imgur’s favorite folders turn 250M meme lords into curators

Either you’re one of 250 million monthly Imgurians, or you probably have no idea what Imgur is. The site for posting and upvoting jokes, inspiration, trivia and sob stories has long flown under the radar despite its massive size and $40 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz. But those who are part of the addictive image-sharing community know there’s been one feature at the top of the request lists forever: favorite folders.

Today, after extended delays and a beta test, Imgur fulfills the wishes of the masses with the official launch of favorite folders on desktop web and its native apps. Now, rather than just “fav-and-forget”ing the posts you want to save to a catch-all section of your profile, you can organize favorites into custom-named folders. Users can even share the folders with others — a bit like Pinterest’s boards.

This is a big deal because it changes Imgur from just an image posting and ranking site into one where curators can assemble the posts into useful compendiums that might appeal to a wider audience not already up on Imgur. Those aggregations could be the funniest reaction GIFs, the prettiest aerial drone footage, the most inspiring weight-loss before-and-afters or the best Rick and Morty memes.

“It lets you collect this magic of the internet,” says Imgur founder and CEO Alan Schaaf. “I think it taps into this basic human need and real problem. When you find something you love, you want to save it, you want to hold on to it. Not only do Imgurians get the opportunity to find the content that they love but also serve up their favorite content to others who visit their profiles.”

Why did it take years to launch something that seems pretty simple? “I don’t have a great answer for you. The fact is that it did take longer than we would have liked.” Users can long-press the favorite “heart” on mobile or click the “more” button on web to select which folder to add a fav to. Controls for privacy and editing are available on the user profile.

Imgur is full of eye-popping, informative, hysterical imagery, but it’s scattered across a massive archive. And usually once a post either gets upvoted to the front page or dies in the user submission pile, it slips into obscurity forever. Favorite folders give old content new legs. It’s why we’ve seen other apps like Facebook and Instagram implement bookmark folders of their own.

By collecting, vetting and spotlighting the best posts from across all users, Imgur’s new wave of curators could make the app more accessible to those who haven’t experienced it yet. Schaaf says “You could be a recipe collector, a GIF creator, a Star Wars fanatic, a cosplay enthusiast,” and your hard work could surface the value of Imgur to people who wouldn’t have dug through it post by post.

Growth is always good, especially as Imgur beefs up its business with a growing sales staff. More users, more viewers for its sponsored posts and display ads. “We’re on a path to profitability and don’t need to raise money right now,” Schaaf proudly notes. “We were bootstrapped. I ran a profitable boostrapped company for five years, then raised $40 million from Andreessen Horowitz. It’s within the DNA of the company to be a well-run, optimized business.”

Now more than eight years old, that means Imgur could be on the path to an IPO. And favorite folders could give it the fodder to impress investors. It’s easy to imagine “best of” collections making great syndicated content for other websites or even print magazines, following in Q&A site Quora’s footsteps.

Brands might pay to create their own sponsored favorite folders, alleviating them from trying to seem cool on their own. Netflix could make a folder of its new shows or classic movies around a theme, appealing to customers inside Imgur while simultaneously promoting the app as they post the collection elsewhere.

Once merely known as the unofficial image host for Reddit, the two sites disentangled last year when Reddit started hosting its own media. Both have gone through their challenges with unsavory community members, misogyny and racism. But with a growing user base just 80 million smaller than Twitter’s and unique new features, Imgur is proving itself a contender in social media.