Interview Series: WeTransfer’s Co-Founder Nalden

If you use WeTransfer, then you may have seen our background images (featuring collaborator Laura Austin) pop up from time to time. We did a partnership with this progressive business and have admired their company mission, culture and success ever since. WeTransfer began with one simple idea: you send the files, they transfer them. Focusing on a “no stress” policy, they built a company from the ground up that allows their users to securely send up to 10GB per transfer. Focusing on an alternative approach to advertising, WeTransfer has surpassed the dated concept of banner ads and uses clean, creative, full screen ads as the background to their website – giving different businesses a platform while appealing to the eye.

Live FAST Mag customized WeTransfer background featuring a photograph by Laura Austin.

Offering “50% of ad-inventory to the most forward-thinking young creatives free of charge,” WeTransfer is honing in on the concept of “paying it forward” and is doing it well. It’s refreshing to see a company that is just four years old change the game of advertising, creativity and online communication. Based out of Amsterdam and SF, WeTransfer is succeeding in creating not only a useful company, admirable business model and stimulating creativity – they are also creating a community of movers and shakers to effectively collaborate. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to pick WeTransfer co-founder Nalden’s brain about the state of advertising, current inspirations and the future of the company, amongst other things. Check out the interview below!

Live FAST Mag customized WeTransfer background featuring a photograph by Laura Austin.


LF: What was your vision when you first launched in 2009, and how has it evolved to bring us to what We Transfer is today?

We started with a fast and simple tool that empowers people to send large files for free. Allowing everyone to quickly upload 2GB, so people can get back to making stuff that might change the world. Today we put discovery at the heart of the service.

We love to showcase a lot of creative work next to the advertising we show when people download or upload files. It’s a productivity tool first and foremost, then again, we’d like to think the overall user-experience sets us apart from the rest.

Featured artist: Eduardo Soteras

Can you discuss how you feel about the current state of advertising? We for instance, are planning to completely remove banner ads from the website upon relaunch of our new design. Can you tell us about your experience in making the site profitable in a completely non traditional way?

Using full-screen images as our business model was the idea from the beginning. It actually originated from the blog I used to have. I was never a big fan of the existing banner ads cuz the fuck up the design of a website and are super obtrusive. I wanted to have ads be part of the design of the site and till this very day challenge brands to think about the aesthetics and put some more love into their ads haha. It’s been a educational journey of over 3 years now when we educate media agencies to try this unconventional way of ‘full-screen advertising’. First, it was hard to get people advertise with us due to the different size. It requires some extra work you know. But, as explained here, advertising can be so much more than a click-through. And luckily, we get CTR’s of 2% – 4% too 😉

Again, the advertising was a way for us to keep offer the service as a FREE to use service. So far we’re still able to cover the crazy hosting costs with ads that people generally like.

Featured artist: Ferdy Remijn

LF: Which artists / platforms are you most interested by when it comes to We Transfer content partnerships such as what we are doing now?

I’m a big fan of Kickstarter. I think it’s one of the most exciting online businesses out there. There’s a lot of good karma in there and they stay close to their beliefs. I like that. At the same time it’s about empowering the creative community. And that’s also what we’re about.

LF: How important is creativity in the day to day of your business?

Very. I mean, it’s everywhere right? You need creativity for the design of the service. Sometimes that means adding features, most of the time it means removing features to keep the product as simple as possible. At the same time we need creativity in terms of scaling the infrastructure of the service or do epic math formulas with our CFO. With 20 million active users every month, and a small team of 20 people, it requires a lot of creativity to keep this thing going!

Featured artist: EDA

LF: Who inspires you?

It goes from everyone who’s featured in Fast Company to my dad, my good friends and people with shiny eyes!

LF: How do you stay positive?

By appreciating the small things in live. Seriously, life is beautiful.

Featured artist Damon Albarn

LF: Where do you see WeTransfer in 5 years?

WeTransfer will be for sharing, what Google is for searching.

LF: How FAST do you live?

I guess there’s a bit of every category from your site in my life. I’m into fashion, love art, have sex every day and travel a lot.

L’Agent Goodies…