Mark Bartels: CEO of StumbleUpon

My NativeAdVice:


Mark is CEO at StumbleUpon Inc. Prior to being StumbleUpon CEO, he was StumbleUpon's Chief Financial Officer and a member of the San Francisco M&A team at Deloitte USA. Mark has experience in Consumer Web and Tech M&A. He is an investor in Consumer Web and Ad Tech companies in San Francisco and Boston. Mark holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree and PGDA from the University of Cape Town and is a qualified Chartered Accountant.

What's Your NativeAdVice:

How did you get into the Tech industry?

I arrived in San Francisco in 2003 and joined the Deloitte & Touche M&A team in 2005. I was exposed a variety of companies from technology and media. The exposure taught me how the engine rooms of these companies functioned and to drive growth through products, distribution deal, engagement loops and marketing.   

Tell us about StumbleUpon. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?

StumbleUpon was founded in Canada in 2002. The vision remains the same which is to discover and explore the best content on the web. The platforms have evolved, but addictive nature of high quality sequential recommendations is the same. Our goal is to be the world’s largest discovery and distribution platform on the web. While many companies have offered discovery products to businesses and publishers, no dominant brand exists for Discovery on the internet. It is an extremely valuable space -- billions of users want to discover internet content.

What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to StumbleUpon's success?

We always say that StumbleUpon markets the best of the internet. The majority of activity on stumble is now on mobile devices. Building a discovery experience on multiple devices and in multiple languages is a tried and tested distribution strategy for StumbleUpon.

What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?

We focus on the content that people consume every day -- content that is entertaining, educational, and inspirational. This includes content such as edutainment, like TED videos. We highlight infotainment that helps people feel informed but which is also designed to be entertaining. Video is something we’ve invested in by building 5by, because it is the fastest growing entertainment content category.

Life Motto?

Step into the mystery

StumbleUpon's Motto?

Instantly Connect People to Content they Love

Your greatest success as CEO of StumbleUpon?

Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn? Building a team in a highly competitive discovery space where we have to compete against giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google. We are a rounding difference in team and resources to these massive companies but we are still one of the largest traffic drivers on the web.

Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?

Success happens when persistence, true grit and a healthy dose of luck coincide. Opportunity favors the prepared mind.

Describe the ideal experience using StumbleUpon.

With one swipe, discovering something that entertains, educates enlightens you. That’s the joy and addictive nature of discovery. You are one swipe away from something that will take you beyond what you already know.  

Opening the StumbleUpon mobile app and seamlessly discovering great content you would not have found without StumbleUpon.

For our clients it would be promoting a great piece of content via our StumbleUpon ads service and amplifying it to the perfect targeted audience.  

How do you motivate your employees?

Context is king. Once people have the context around a decision then they roll up their sleeves and ask they can contribute. Get people excited about the destination and they will figure out how to get there.

One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?

Rare sirloin steak and a glass of pinotage.

What literature is on your bed stand?

The Path to Power, The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 1 by Robert Caro. Make Something Up: Stories You Can't Unread by Chuck Palahniuk

Role model - business and personal?

Business and Personal are the same thing for me. Dave Goldberg from Survey Monkey. He built his team and company for the long term while staying grounded and connected to family.

Current passion?

Bonsai Trees and Surfing

Favorite travel destination?

Point Reyes National Seashore, CA

What's next for StumbleUpon?

Our recent focus is developing and improving best in class mobile apps. We have also focused on new solutions for our brand and publishing partners that are trying to reach our audience with amazing content. We have a lot of exciting developments in the works.