I came across this post yesterday and there seems to be some confusion out there about imgur, as well as some people asking for an AMA. So here it is! Sometimes you get what you ask for and sometimes you don't.

I'll start with some background info: I created Imgur while I was a junior in college (Ohio University) and released it to you guys. It took a while to monetize it, and it actually ran off of your donations for about the first 6 months. Soon after that, the bandwidth bills were starting to overshadow the donations that were coming in, so I had to put some ads on the site to help out. Imgur accounts and pro accounts came in about another 6 months after that. At this point I was still in school, working part-time at minimum wage, and the site was breaking even. It turned out that OU had some pretty awesome resources for startups like Imgur, and I got connected to a guy named Matt who worked at the Innovation Center on campus. He gave me some business help and actually got me a small one-desk office in the building. Graduation came and I was working on Imgur full time, and Matt and I were working really closely together. In a few months he had joined full-time as COO. Everything was going really well, and about another 6 months later we moved Imgur out to San Francisco. Soon after we were here Imgur won Best Bootstrapped Startup of 2011 according to TechCrunch. Then we started hiring more people. The first position was Director of Communications (Sarah), and then a few months later we hired Josh as a Frontend Engineer, then Jim as a JavaScript Engineer, and then finally Brian and Tony as Frontend Engineer and Head of User Experience. That brings us to the present time. Imgur is still ad supported with a little bit of income from pro accounts, and is able to support the bandwidth cost from only advertisements.

Some problems we're having right now:

  • Scaling the site has always been a challenge, but we're starting to get really good at it. There's layers and layers of caching and failover servers, and the site has been really stable and fast the past few weeks. Maintenance and running around with our hair on fire is quickly becoming a thing of the past. I used to get alerts randomly in the middle of the night about a database crash or something, which made night life extremely difficult, but this hasn't happened in a long time and I sleep much better now.

  • Matt has been really awesome at getting quality advertisers, but since Imgur is a user generated content site, advertisers are always a little hesitant to work with us because their ad could theoretically turn up next to porn. In order to help with this we're working with some companies to help sort the content into categories and only advertise on images that are brand safe. That's why you've probably been seeing a lot of Imgur ads for pro accounts next to NSFW content.

  • For some reason Facebook likes matter to people. With all of our pageviews and unique visitors, we only have 35k "likes", and people don't take Imgur seriously because of it. It's ridiculous, but that's the world we live in now. I hate shoving likes down people's throats, so Imgur will remain very non-obtrusive with stuff like this, even if it hurts us a little. However, it would be pretty awesome if you could help: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Imgur/67691197470

Site stats in the past 30 days according to Google Analytics:

  • Visits: 205,670,059

  • Unique Visitors: 45,046,495

  • Pageviews: 2,313,286,251

  • Pages / Visit: 11.25

  • Avg. Visit Duration: 00:11:14

  • Bounce Rate: 35.31%

  • % New Visits: 17.05%

Infrastructure stats over the past 30 days according to our own data and our CDN:

  • Data Transferred: 4.10 PB

  • Uploaded Images: 20,518,559

  • Image Views: 33,333,452,172

  • Average Image Size: 198.84 KB

Since I know this is going to come up: It's pronounced like "imager".

EDIT: Since it's still coming up: It's pronounced like "imager".

Comments: 4955 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

froop2501 karma

Please, don't ever change the UI for the sake of changing the UI. Imgur does what you wanted it to do (well, it's doing what I want it to do anyway). So far, the only interface changes I've seen have been unobtrusive improvements (like drag & drop) and I really like it.

Seriously, Facebook had a fine UI and they keep changing it for no real reason other than they feel like it. Youtube keeps adding features that ultimately make it less useful than it once was. Digg killed itself doing this.

imgur's like a unix program. It only does one thing, but it does it really, really fucking well.

EDIT: Holy crap, I think this is the most karma I've gotten in one comment by half an order of magnitude. And the top of the page too!

MrGrim1907 karma

That's really great to hear!

I know how important the UI is, and that's why it's the way it is. It won't ever change from being super easy and simple.

All_Your_Base1702 karma

First, thanks. A lot. Between you and RES, you've made Reddit 10 times better, not to mention easier.

  1. Are you getting rich off of it?
  2. What is your next masterpiece that you are working on?

MrGrim1400 karma

  1. I keep most of it in the business in order to grow it and hire more people.

  2. Imgur takes most of my time these days, so nothing unfortunately. However, I'm on the board of directors for another Ohio University startup called Flarecode. I've been trying to help them out too.

gypsywhisperer1194 karma

I just wanted to thank you for a fast, easy upload site. Made proving my proof for my AMA's easy.

MrGrim799 karma

You're welcome!

MrTravesty1178 karma

Has anyone tried to buy imgur from you and who?

MrGrim1828 karma

Imageshack tried to buy it 6 months after I made it. Glad I didn't sell...

Imgur is now bigger than they are, as well as yfrog which is by the same company.

jabb0736 karma

did they offer more than 100K?

MrGrim1295 karma

It didn't go that far. I told them right up front that it was too early, so we never negotiated a price.

tjharman858 karma

My cool story. I submitted (I think via Twitter? can't remember) for some free stickers, which you sent so thank you very much. But I loved the fact you included this little hand drawn sheep, which I keep stuck on the wall at work.


I'm not sure if that was you or Sarah (or someone else) but it's awesome so thanks again!

MrGrim928 karma

It was Sarah. She's pretty awesome sometimes.

DeadBacon773 karma

How did you come up with the name "Imgur"?

MrGrim1014 karma

I made a list of about 15 names that I liked and then looked at which ones were available. I liked imgur because it's kind of a play on the acronyms, img for image and your for ur. So in a way, it's "your imager". It also rhymes with sharer, so "your imager is the simple image sharer".

HiImDan848 karma

Not IMaGe Upload for Reddit?

MrGrim929 karma

Wow, that works really well. I don't think that crossed my mind, but I may have to start using it.

brumbrum21742 karma

can you please fix the way the ads are displayed on the mobile version of your website? they often cover parts of the pictures and they cannot be closed. thank you

MrGrim1074 karma

I'm sorry to hear that :(

I'll see what I can do.

cwm21122 karma

Sarah mentioned (on Facebook a while ago) that Android and iOS apps were coming soon. Any estimate on when? I'm just antsy. Thanks again for making such a fantastic site! (And for the t-shirt I received a couple of days ago :)

MrGrim293 karma

She's right. They should be here in a few months. People are working on them 15 feet from me as I type this.

Examz679 karma

Am I really going to get my imgur sticker in the mail? I like stickers.

MrGrim728 karma

You will! It's going to take a while though. There are almost 2000 emails...

EDIT: For those of you just now seeing this, I can't guarantee you'll get stickers because of the amount of emails we have now. It was kind of a thing we were doing yesterday, so you're a bit late, but we'll do our best. I promise.

intrepiddaydream669 karma


MrGrim1207 karma

Pretty much everyone thought that it was unmonetizable. I even got some angry PMs from people yelling about how stupid I was.

andre_whopper547 karma

What's the most bizarre, f'd up pic you've come across on your site? Link please.

MrGrim1215 karma

I don't have the links, but you really don't want to see them anyway. Trust me.

I've seen a dead man with his penis cut off and shoved in his mouth, as well as a penis that was split like a banana peel.

AndresDM768 karma

is it wrong that i know exactly what picture you are talking about? the penis in the mouth one that is

MrGrim1026 karma

yeah, probably

Slantedinnuendo545 karma

Have you ever used your status on the internet as a pink up line?

Do you ever impress girls with pictures of cute cats?

MrGrim952 karma

Yes, but it doesn't work. Somehow the word "internet" in pickup lines is not sexy. I even had a really outgoing friend use my story and he said it almost worked once, but ended up failing.

Slantedinnuendo738 karma

I will try using 'internet' in a pick-up line and reclaim its sexy use.

For you, good sir.

For, you,

I will change the world.

MrGrim972 karma

You're doing god's work.

jzzsxm491 karma

Your pro membership is the first pro membership I've ever purchased for a website, it's awesome!

I've been looking around for a long time to find a site that will easily let me post images, titles, and short blog-like captions and descriptions and all the other photo places are just too cluttered.

Keep it simple, keep it clean, and keep it fast/easy and I'll forever be in your debt, thanks!

MrGrim383 karma

That's really great to hear! I'm glad you like it

AgaliareptX491 karma

So about the Imgur mascot...

MrGrim887 karma

We have a 3ft wooden giraffe in the office and are working with two different designers to figure it out. It's coming soon.

[deleted]473 karma


MrGrim438 karma

You're welcome! Glad it turned out well.

GeckoGadget468 karma

Do your staff get in trouble for being on imgur too much?

MrGrim1218 karma

Nah, you're even allowed to look at Imgur NSFW content. For testing of course.

Fwhqgads434 karma

Do you get annoyed when people complain that imgur is down?

MrGrim780 karma

I do. Mostly because I'm already working on it and it just adds fuel to the fire.

morbiusfan88425 karma

  1. What is your most embarrassing awesome drunk story?
  2. When do you foresee needing to go to 6 character URLs for the pictures? If my math (and supposition) is correct, there's only room for 916.13M 5 character urls. Also, how do you come up with the urls (is it just a character randomizer or something like that)?

Also, thank you so much for creating the most user-friendly photo hosting website ever. You're amazing.

MrGrim543 karma

  2. Probably within a couple of months. There are actually a little over 700M possibilities, and we're already at 200M images. They are just randomly generated and then it checks if the generated one exists or not.

morbiusfan88202 karma

I like your style, sir.

That fast? I'm guessing if you started with single character urls, I can see where that growth rate (plus with the rising popularity of the site and growing userbase) would necessitate longer urls. Also, the system you have in place is very fast and efficient. I like it.

Thanks for the reply!

MrGrim333 karma

It's always been 5 characters, and the 6th is a thumbnail suffix. We'll be increasing it because the time it's taking to pick another random one is getting too long.

luhbelle351 karma

Are you thinking of putting a part of Imgur up that makes it so all the Imgurians can post their own images without having to go through reddit to make it to the front page?

MrGrim429 karma

Working on it right now. Should be 3ish months...

[deleted]140 karma


MrGrim22 karma

APNG is already supported.

mandlar325 karma

Can you go in more details over the stack you run on? Server infrastructure, etc.? Would love to hear more about the hardware and software you run on.

MrGrim537 karma

It's actually fairly complex now, but I will attempt to do it all from memory.

Backround info: Imgur is on Amazon AWS and we use Edgecast as a CDN.

Everything is grouped into clusters depending on the job. There are load balancing, uploading, www, api, image serving, searching, memcached, redis, mysql, map reduce, and cron clusters. Each one of these clusters has at least two instances, each one on it's own availability zone. However, most have more than two instances because of the load.

A typical imgur.com request goes to a load balancer which run nginx and haproxy. The request first hits nginx, and if there's a cached version of the page (each page is cached for 5 seconds unless you're logged in) then it will serve that out. If not then the request goes over to haproxy and it will determine which cluster to send it to, in this case, the www cluster. This cluster runs nginx and php-fpm, and is hooked up to the memcached, redis, and mysql clusters. Php-fpm will handle it if it's a php page. If the request needs info from mysql, then it will check if the query exists in memcached. If not, then mysql will send the data back and immediately cache it into memcached. If the request is for an image page, and we need the amount of times the image was viewed, then it grabs that info from redis. The request then goes back out of php-fpm, through nginx on the www server, and back into the load balancer where it will most likely be cached by nginx, and then out to the user.

Most of the clusters use c1.xlarge instances. The upload cluster handles all uploads and image processing requests, like thumbnails and resizing, and each instance is a huge cluster instance, cc1.4xlarge.

All image requests go through the CDN, and if they're cached, then they just go right back out of the CDN to the user. If it's not cached then the CDN gets the image from the image serving cluster and caches it for all additional requests.

That's about it. Anything you'd like to know specifically?

zilman82 karma


  • Can you explain why you went with Edgecast and not, say, CloudFront (since you're on AWS to begin with)?

  • How many EC2 instances total?

  • Isn't it about time to get a rack and switch some stuff over to it? EC2 is very expensive. Even a not so beefy server with some tricks like using a GPU for the thumbnails/resizing could probably handle the load for a fraction of the price. (You can mix this stuff so EC2 is just for 'overflow' and redundancy)

  • What kind of bottlenecks did you have to deal with as imgur grew unpredictably? Any cool war stories? :)

MrGrim97 karma

  • Edgecast is much cheaper.

  • At peak times there are usually around 60.

  • EC2 has been really nice. There are no plans to move off of it. Our image processing software doesn't even use GPUs (GraphicsMagick -- they say it's not needed), but even if it did, EC2 has that option.

  • The biggest bottleneck is with the database. MySQL has always been a pain in the ass. It's great software, but if I knew what I know now when I created Imgur, I would have chose something different.

GabrieI305 karma

How much are the server costs? Also, thanks so much for the awesome site! I really enjoy the community and the pictures on there.

MrGrim513 karma

Unfortunately I can't tell you how much things cost or how much Imgur makes :(

garlan_304 karma

Who are the people that care about facebook likes? advertisers?

MrGrim415 karma

Advertisers, investors, reporters, anyone looking to know more about the business and how big we are.

iareaman335 karma

Just an idea but I think it would be worth considering Facebook apps as a way to accept entries to your photoshop competitions, that way you can promote the page through asking people to share the page without being too up front

MrGrim279 karma

Thanks for the idea! That's not bad at all.

Gonewildondrugs270 karma

Do you have plans on buying a horse?

MrGrim554 karma

a boat

NorbitGorbit264 karma

do you hash and store only one copy of duplicate images?

MrGrim230 karma

Believe it or not, we don't. All the images only use up about 3TB of storage space, so it's not really a big issue.

Uzak262 karma

Answer this please, Where is Cagg?:D

MrGrim385 karma

We don't know :(

We tried contacting him but got nothing.

flipadelphia49241 karma

When you first created imgur, did you have any idea that people would be pronouncing it in so many different ways?

MrGrim277 karma

heh, I guess, but that wasn't really on my mind.

notnotcitricsquid223 karma

I've noticed with things like the gallery that you're positioning yourself to be an "independent entity", for the longest time imgur was just an image host and now (in both functionality and branding) it exists as a site people visit.

Do you have a long term plan to become more independent and (basically) become a better r/pics? I guess a better way to ask it: what's your long term plan with imgur?

I believe I was one of the first few imgur pro members (back when you did the original appsumo promotion). It's great to see how far you've come, I still use imgur today for hosting all my images, which can't be said of most services that I've used over time.

MrGrim56 karma

We're focusing on the entertainment aspect now. Long term, I'd like Imgur to become a destination for interesting images on the Internet.

Theycallmepicha221 karma

What was your inspiration? Who/What gave you the idea?

MrGrim514 karma

I got the idea because you couldn't reliably post images to reddit without them being taken down for consuming too much bandwidth.

Simple and elegant services and designs give me motivation.

newtothelyte217 karma

Does it ever cross your mind that you have significantly changed the history of the internet and file sharing altogether?

Have you thought of donating money to charities on behalf of imgur?

Congratulations on your success

MrGrim319 karma

Someone once told me that Imgur is a staple of the Internet. That hit me pretty hard, and I love it.

That's been brought up from time to time, but no real plans yet. What's your favorite charity?

luhbelle209 karma

How are you going to mail us our stickers if you don't have our addresses?

MrGrim457 karma

You were supposed to email your address.

316nuts148 karma

I've noticed that imgur seems to be molding into a Reddit in some ways. You have entirely separate user accounts, comments, upvotes and downvotes. Here is an example of what I am talking about

I can even browse all of the images in /r/funny by going here.

Is the above functionality designed to compliment the average redditor's experience, or is it designed for an entirely different set of users?

What separates the users that browse www.imgur.com/r/funny from those who use reddit's /r/funny?

What separates the imgur.com experience from Reddit? What, in your opinion, have you improved?

MrGrim21 karma

It's supposed to be complimentary to reddit. If you like reddit's r/funny, then you can easily scroll through the r/funny content that was posted on imgur.

The upvotes and comments are only in the gallery, and only if you aren't coming from reddit. This functionality is separate for people who browse the gallery.

jianxioy143 karma


MrGrim226 karma

  1. This is a bit more of a question than I have time for, so I may come back to it. However, we'll be talking about that at SXSW hopefully. You can vote for the panel here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/2294

  2. Two proxy servers in front, running Nginx for caching and HAProxy as the load balaner. Then all requests go to the appropriate cluster (image, upload, api, www) which all run nginx and php-fpm. Any cached image requests are served straight from the CDN. MySQL is the main db, but there's also memcached and redis clusters to help with the DB load.

  3. Still bootstrapped all the way.

John147GHN142 karma

Is it true you guys are going to make an Imgur store? If so, any exclusive details you could give us? :D

MrGrim213 karma

We are. No details as of yet, but we're working with a couple people to help get it setup.

HalIsSad135 karma

First, thanks. (Include all you want in it)

Second: what's the secret with all the american Internet success stories (Like Imgur, Google, etc...) College? Idea? Money?

MrGrim497 karma

I'd say it's the secret is identifying a problem that you're having and making a solution that's better than any of the current ones.

honestbleeps112 karma

I just wanted to say thanks for the absolutely horrendously stressful/horrible but ultimately hilariously funny day you gave me when imgur started responding with random images (often NSFW ones) and everyone thought it was RES's fault.

I'm being serious here - it was a really rough day with people freaking out on me, sending me hate mail and threats, etc... but in retrospect it was absolutely hilarious and one of the cooler/funnier things I can look back and laugh about... so thanks for that, even if it wasn't on purpose ;-)

Also thanks for continuing to improve imgur and its services, and for letting RES be a bastard leech off of you every time I ask you "are you sure you don't want me to do something to at least let you inject your own ads or something?"

Keep on keepin' on, MrGrim.

For my question: What exactly happened with that random image fiasco? And are you willing to add something like that to the API? People are asking me to do it in RES and I can't really think of a good way to do it without just testing random URLs and hitting your servers unnecessarily.

MrGrim45 karma

Oh man, I'm really sorry to hear you got hate mail from that. It was definetly one of the funnier bugs that have ever popped up.

There was a typo in the line that pulled the image from the DB. This isn't exactly it, but think along the lines of:

select * from images limit 1;


select * from images where id = 12345 limit 1;

Omenege112 karma

Any plans to go into video or are you happy with sticking to just pictures for now?

Imgur is really great, thanks for making it.

MrGrim211 karma

Nope, we're pretty happy in the image business.

lambo3295 karma

Do you have any secret? It's incredible that 45 million people per month use your site.

MrGrim703 karma

Well if I told you it wouldn't be a secret anymore. http://i.imgur.com/6DdDc.gif

SatansF4TE93 karma

Thanks for the really, really, useful service for a start.

Questions: 1) Did you have to learn new skills and information (load-balancing, similar) when the site started to grow? 2) How is content policed / how do you deal with problem content? 3) What language did you code imgur in?

MrGrim142 karma

  1. I learned just about everything as I've needed it. I've always been pretty good at PHP, but all the backend and scaling issues that came up were learned on the fly because I either had to find a solution or the site would go down.

  2. It doesn't need to be policed thanks to the safe harbor laws. If we're notified of something then we take it down.

  3. It's all done in PHP.

rapol68 karma

My girlfriend's sister went to school and was friends with Breanna. Something along the lines of she was gonna give her our number so when you were coming to SF you could crash in LA with us of you wanted but forgot too. Then much later she said she(bre) was dating some image guy that went to OU. I put 2 and 2 together and was sad I never got to buy you a beer.

That's my creepy story.

MrGrim76 karma

We're still together.

macnikos68 karma

Are you planning to make an official iOS version? There are many clients using your API but either of them is good enough.

MrGrim108 karma

It's in the works right now. Tony is almost done with all the designs.

McSpankeys63 karma

You're a good guy; I like you and the things you do.

MrGrim59 karma

Thanks! You're not too bad yourself.

Womblingdoug62 karma

Is it true about the stickers?

MrGrim130 karma

Yes! We have 2000 emails so far, but all will get stickers. I think it's like $900 in stamps, lol.

YellowSharkMT43 karma

What sort of legalities do you have to deal with when it comes to illegal content, like CP & stuff? Do you have to proactively patrol the content at all, or is it enough to just include some sort of "report this content" link?

MrGrim66 karma

Thanks to the safe harbor laws, which is what the whole SOPA and PIPA thing was about, we don't have to police the content.

Once we're notified of it we have to take it down.

[deleted]38 karma


MrGrim60 karma

Almost 200 million right now.

My favorite image changes almost daily. The gallery has some really great stuff.