WeTransfer co-founder Nalden on art as ads and not doing "those silly banners"

WeTransfer's co-founder Nalden: WeTransfer maintains a 50/50 gender split of artists and will launch a new mobile app soon

WeTransfer's ascent from a startup to a profitable company was pretty quick but it is the company's interest in art and creative work that has grown exponentially.

Fro example, WeTransfer earlier inked a creative partnership with Penguin books and collaborated with illustrator Damien Cuypers at London Fashion Week. The Drum spoke to Nalden ( born as Ronald Hans) co-founder of WeTransfer about the creative side of the business.

WeTransfer is aiding arts by giving away 30% of its advertising inventory? How does this work?

How we do it is easy. Every month we have over 40 million people using our service, which means there’s billions of impressions to show beautiful full screen images to them. Most of them are ads, or to tell people about WeTransfer Plus, but 30% of those impressions are dedicated to showcase creative work we curate ourselves.

We showcase a range of disciplines; art, design, illustration, music, photography, fashion, tech. And a range of all levels, from Rankin, FKA Twigs and The Royal Academy to students and new Kickstarter campaigns.

We also maintain a 50/50 gender split of artists and have one creative per continent represented in every wallpaper session. We always select the work by asking ourselves; is this work well crafted? No one can agree on whether something is beautiful but we want to promote work that has been well crafted. All combined, we’ve shown art five billion times to our users the past year and are definitely doing the same, if not more this year.

We’ve heard many stories about how it helped creatives to get to the next stage of their career. Like Raul Soria, a young Spanish illustrator commissioned for a big job for Mercedes-Benz who spotted his work on WeTransfer. Or British photographer Dan Forti who was invited to publish a book after his work was seen on WeTransfer. Australian photographer Tim Allen’s work was featured on WeTransfer and he got so much traffic his domain provider took down his site because they were sure he was under a DDOS attack.

What do you aim to achieve and how do you plan to get good returns through this?

This is the exciting bit! The presumption is that inspiration leads to ideas that lead to creative action. So someone creates something amazing, someone else sees it, and is in turn inspired to create something amazing themselves. Obviously somewhere in this process we believe people will need our service and start sharing again.

Essentially it’s all about serendipity. Your online life is based on what you have liked in the past. We don’t target you so you actually have a chance, which is quite rare online nowadays, to be shown something you had no idea you were interested in.

I believe that those random collisions ignite really exciting creative thinking; it’s the joy of the unexpected. People come to WeTransfer to send or download files, they don’t come to browse artwork. While using WeTransfer many are caught off guard with these beautiful images, and hopefully inspired. We don’t curate an experience for you based on your previous likes or dislikes. We have the ability to present you art, animation, illustration and photography and design that you never knew you might be interested in.

How are you planning to integrate global artists on your platform?

We have been doing so for years. Like I said, we do it a a range of all levels; from Prince, Moby and Oasis sharing their music, to content projects with Sampha, Anderson .Paak and Magnum Photos, to students and charity campaigns. With WeTransfer Studios, we hope to bring to life and amplifying amazing creative ideas that are culturally relevant.

On our blog ThisWorks we tell the stories behind the wallpapers, literally highlighting the creative work that’s being shared via WeTransfer.

How does WeTransfer reinvent or market itself in a Google-dominated market?

We are different in so many ways and our users love us for that. For example, we gather a minimal amount of data from our users and have strong values on privacy, something Google, for example, doesn’t have the best reputation for.

We believe in thinking long-term, and building a respectful relationship with our users, instead of selling out for quick wins. This trust in WeTransfer is reflected in a high net promoter score score (NPS) of 87.

Apart from that trust it’s the accessibility of our product. You don’t need to sign up for an account to start using it. You can immediately start sharing content for free, and, while at it, we’ll show you beautiful images of which some are advertisements. It’s that simple. And no, we don’t do those silly banners. We do full screen images - think of them as digital billboards. Our NPS and high value audience (75% are from creative industries) are very interesting to advertisers.

Any plans of introducing new products?

Yes! We are continuously improving the service from a infrastructure point of view, and are about to introduce some new exciting features for our WeTransfer Plus users, that will be particularly interesting for people working in the advertising and agency world.

By the end of this year we will launch a new mobile app. With our mission in mind, we are constantly looking at new and better ways to enable our users sharing creative ideas. But focusing only on tech and utilities doesn’t help to make something people would embrace. It needs some magic that resonates with people. Because, let’s be honest, inspiration is nothing unless you do something with it.

Taruka Srivastav

I march to the Indian beat of The Drum.

All by Taruka