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What is Stack Overflow's business model?

I was curious if the ad support has continued to bring in enough $$$ to support the SO,SF, MSO, and SU websites? This is a user site, but servers and bandwidth costs money. They must be doing ok since the websites continue to grow.


Yes, but it's a whole lot of work to make that happen... both on the ad side and the site development side.

jjnguy already mentioned that there's three full-time on the development side. You may be surprised to know that there are 4 full-time staff on the ad side... and growing!

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    Why don't you change your Gravatar? – Brad Gilbert Aug 14 '09 at 14:39
  • I see you have fixed it already. – Brad Gilbert Aug 15 '09 at 14:19

I also hear that some yacht companies are planning to bring huge sponsorship to the next StackExchange site - for boat programming questions.

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    Are you ever going to let that boat programming question go? It's getting kind of old. – Kyle Cronin Jul 22 '09 at 20:02
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    @Kyle - I have a need for the boat-programming tag and site. I program on a boat. It is relevant to me and I intend to get the hosted stack exchange for it. I figure the ads I get from generator companies, boat manufacturers and th elike will pay for the hosting fees. – tim Jul 22 '09 at 20:16
  • Have you tried posting your own question? If you have a legitimate need it might go over better than a joke question. – Kyle Cronin Jul 22 '09 at 20:18
  • I only used the tag in my own questions - there was a flurry of activity of that use after some rabid editors discovered the tags (which had existed on my questions for over a week without the world ending) – tim Jul 22 '09 at 20:33
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    if you really program on a boat, post pictures of you programming on the boat.. preferably holding a "meta.stackoverflow.com" sign.. – Jeff Atwood Jul 23 '09 at 3:00
  • Nice. The only problem is, the post would get deleted... I guess it can go on a website. Stay tuned. – tim Jul 23 '09 at 3:02
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    sure -- add it to your profile! I want a copy of today's newspaper, and the words "meta.stackoverflow.com" printed on that newspaper, though.. :) – Jeff Atwood Jul 23 '09 at 3:05

It's not just ad support: At this moment, there are 84 jobs on the job board. A job posting is 350 bucks for 21 days, so if 80 is average (they have a refund policy), that's $42000 per month (which is probably shared with joelonsoftware, but still).

I'd take a piece of that cake in no time.


Jeff keeps hiring full time developers, so I assume they are getting by just fine for now at least.

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    Either that or he's become an accomplished bank robber. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Jul 22 '09 at 19:06
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    Hmmm. I just heard on the radio that Iowa is on pace to have a record number of bank robberies this year and I know that Jeff has family in Iowa. I wonder... – tvanfosson Jul 22 '09 at 20:05
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    Ha, no one would suspect a high profile developer living in California to be a bank robber...Good cover Jeff! – jjnguy Jul 22 '09 at 20:14

Balpha has the right answer; ad revenue is trivial, job advertisement revenue is essential.

In developing a business plan for my proposed stack exchange, I did some homework on how much ad revenue I could expect. The calculation is outlined well here. For my assumptions, job advertising was essential to cover my costs. Google adsense (and Amazon affiliate) revenue wasn't sufficient.

  • It's all about the audience, and the SO audience is among the best. Try putting ads in front of the YouTube/FaceBook crowd... good luck making a living off of that. – Alex Papadimoulis Aug 14 '09 at 12:55

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