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Tiny startup with a huge audience is the talk of Silicon Valley

SAN FRANCISCO -- Snapchat has all but disappeared from the conversation here just weeks after turning down a $3-billion takeover offer from Facebook.

The talk of Silicon Valley is now all about image-sharing service Imgur, which is said to be in talks with Yahoo.

Alan Schaaf started the company in 2009 when he was an Ohio University undergrad because he was frustrated with how hard it was to share photos on Reddit.

Now Imgur (pronounced "IM-uh-jur") draws more traffic than Reddit, having topped 100 million users in September thanks to the space dog, the rocket frog and countless other images that are hard to resist.

In fact, the San Francisco company with just 10 staffers is so hot that the Atlantic calls it "the biggest little site in the world."

In addition to being one of the Web's most heavily trafficked sites, Imgur boasts a very engaged, very young audience. It's also very, very social.

Every image on Imgur gets "points" by being voted up or down by its community of users. Members can also comment on images, comment on other people’s comments, and so forth.

On average, images gets 6,000 to 10,000 points. Imgur just released its leader board for top-scoring users and comments. The leader, PeanutBuddha, has 2.1 million points.

All Things D's Liz Gannes reported in October that venture capitalists are so eager for a piece of Imgur that they are "are literally — literally — sliding term sheets under their door." (Unlike many start-ups, Imgur has yet to take on any venture capital investment).

They apparently were not the only ones courting Imgur.

Reported Gannes: "Perhaps the most high-profile of those who have shown interest in Imgur is Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who has visited the start-up multiple times recently, sources said. Her company has already gotten a foot in the door with a hosting partnership that was signed in February of this year, but was never announced."

Can Yahoo pull another Tumblr? Or will Imgur hold onto its independence in hopes of a bigger payoff down the road the way Snapchat has?

Neither Yahoo nor Schaaf could be reached for comment.

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