Stack Overflow Inc., operator of the most popular online forum for computer programmers, raised $12 million from investors led by Index Ventures to accelerate growth in new markets like photography and cooking.
Spark Capital joined the financing, as did Union Square Ventures, which first invested in the New York-based company last year. Stack also is changing its name to Stack Exchange, according to a statement today.
Investor appetite for Web forums surged in the past year as users flocked to sites like Quora Inc. and Formspring.me. Stack said it has grown more than 60 percent since August, attracting almost 20 million unique visitors in February. It runs 45 question-and-answer sites, with two-thirds of the traffic on its primary site for developers. Stack is the dominant site for computer experts, said Neil Rimer, a partner at Index.
“We can’t find a programmer who doesn’t love Stack Overflow and doesn’t swear by it and use it all the time,” said Geneva-based Rimer, who’s joining Stack’s board. “When you see that kind of loyal behavior and engagement, you take notice and track the company.”
Stack currently has 30 employees. It plans to use some of the new capital for marketing and some to bolster its sites that focus on attracting professionals, including photographers, chefs, mathematicians and video-game developers, Chief Executive Officer Joel Spolsky said in an interview.
Stack makes money by selling advertisements and charging recruiters, who come to the site to find job seekers with experience in particular programming languages. There are currently about 500 jobs listed on the site, and recruiters pay $5,000 for an annual subscription.
The company introduced Careers 2.0 last month, allowing developers to create personal profiles highlighting their skills and experience. This reduces the amount of work that recruiters must do to find the right employees, Spolsky said.
“Mostly what we see is startups that need to hire a developer or two,” said Spolsky, 45, who co-founded the company in 2008. “We have some convincing to do to get the traditional recruiters to understand the value proposition of prescreening, based on work they’re doing in public, rather than the old expectation that all you get is a cover letter and resume.”
Union Square Ventures led the previous round of funding in May, which also included angel investors Ron Conway, Naval Ravikant and Chris Dixon.
Index Ventures’ other investments include Internet game company Playfish Inc., which was purchased in 2009 by Electronic Arts Inc., British online gaming site Betfair Group Plc, and e-commerce company Etsy Inc.