Founded in 2009 as an image-hosting solution for Reddit, Imgur has quickly grown to become the internet’s favourite sharing service for memes, GIFs and quirky images. The site, which counts 300 million monthly users, is top-15 ranked in the U.S. by Alexa. In December 2019, Imgur launched Melee, a dedicated community for gamers to show off their best gameplay clips. Melee is the company’s first app beyond its flagship product.
Adeva has added tremendous value for us. The developers they placed with us enabled Imgur to launch products with a high quality within a time frame that absolutely would not have been possible without them.
Imgur did not have enough in-house engineering resources to develop Melee, its new gaming-meme app, and were struggling to find remote, international developers with the right combination of technical and communication skills.
Imgur worked with Adeva to find two engineers to build out Melee, and two engineers to augment the in-house team on the core product. The rigorously tested and vetted engineers had the skills to hit the ground running, so they could accelerate product development and act as a focal point for communication across the whole design team.
Imgur needed to hire expert engineers to augment its in-house team without the significant cost of permanent full-time hires.
With an in-house team of around 20 developers, Imgur thought it had enough engineering talent to maintain its flagship product—a 300 million-strong, community-powered destination for entertainment. But when the company started to make a play for the massive gaming market, it quickly realised that it did not have enough resources to work on this crucial area of product development.
“Melee is a way for gamers to share their highlight clips with their community,” says Muts Inayama, the Head of Product and Engineering at Imgur. “We were already popular in the gaming space, with nearly half of our 300m monthly users following gaming-related tags. So it made sense for us to move into this market.”
Imgur thought about hiring a permanent, full time employee to build out the app. But they were not sure how long they would need a dedicated engineer for, and were concerned about the significant costs that come with local hires.
“It’s really difficult and expensive to get top talent in the San Francisco Bay Area, so remote working, using international contractors, has been part of our strategy from the beginning,” Muts explains. “But that throws up certain challenges. Obviously, we need people who are capable from a technical standpoint. But when you’re part of an app development team, you’re the focal point of a lot of important communication. You have to work seamlessly with a product manager, the product development team and the API team. We speak English in the office, and we needed engineers who were very strong communicators in this language.”
“That’s actually a hard combination to find. International contractors can often be good on the technical side, but we’re also looking for people with a hunger to contribute who can quickly embed into our teams.”
Bringing on four Adeva engineers to develop Melee and drive revenue generation across the core product.
Upon learning about Adeva’s on-demand hiring model and rigorous vetting process, the leadership team at Imgur decided to give it a try. They started with one engineer working as part of a self-contained team supporting Melee, and gradually extended to four engineers—two on Melee, and two supporting the core product.
“This year, we’ve put less focus on user-facing features and more on revenue generation,” explains Muts. “So the core developers have been creating products we can go to market with and sell. For example, if you go to Imgur and open the app, the first thing you will see is a grid of different types of content— images, videos and so on. Every so often, one of those thumbnails is an ad. In the past, these Ad Tiles have been static images. But the Adeva engineers helped to animate them.”
“There’s also a digital advertising project that doesn’t sound very interesting, but it was critically important to us from a revenue point of view. What we’re doing on the site is creating an auction of the ad slots. Adeva developers have been pivotal to us adding new demand partners so we get as many bidders as possible into those ad slots.”
“I can’t put a dollar figure on the return on investment we’re getting from these projects individually, but I do know that, when added up, they’ve helped the bottom line tremendously.”
Melee launched much faster than anticipated, and Imgur raises the bar on what remote international teams can deliver.
Melee launched on iOS in December 2019, with the Android version following soon after—something that would not have happened without Adeva’s engineers. “Melee is a high-quality product and we’re really excited about it,” Muts says. “But it might not have launched without the additional engineering help ...we might still be working on it!”
“With the Adeva engineers, I’d say we were able to accelerate the speed of launch—twice.”
As for the future, Imgur will continue to invest in Melee and diversify their revenue streams, including the launch of a new subscription service. The company has also been thinking about diversity, equity and inclusion this year, from a product standpoint and a community standpoint. “This year, most of our implementation has been on the revenue side, but diversity is where we’ll focus in the future,” Muts explains. “How can we be more inclusive to people who may be less represented in our user base? We’re all about positivity at Imgur, and we want to make sure everyone walks away happy after they’ve used our app.”
And will Adeva play a role in delivering these ambitions? “Resoundingly yes!” Muts says. “Every developer we’ve onboarded from Adeva has hit all our hard requirements—technically, they’ve been so strong. Plus, Adeva has saved us a huge amount of time in the whole recruiting process. They put a lot of time and attention into qualifying the candidates, which meant that our engineers were able to hit the ground running. The whole process has been fast and seamless. Adeva allowed us to augment our engineering and product-development capacity in a very cost-effective manner. And the results speak for themselves!”