In the late 90s/early 2000s, it seemed that at least once a year Kodak acquired another online imaging service that appeared to provide many of the same functions as previous acquisitions.
Of late Shutterfly also looks to be acquiring overlapping if not redundant start-ups. This week the photofinishing service paid $14.5 million for Groovebook.
The app distinguishes itself somewhat from the crowd with a subscription service that — like Ecce Terram and timeshel — combines 100 photos into a personalized 4.5×6.5-inch book, for $3 every month.
The new company is best known for receiving a $150,000 investment on the TV show Shark Tank.
In a press release, one of the start-up’s founders says joining Shutterfly will help get costs down for the sub service, and the Shark Tank investors are quoted as saying the original entrepreneurs are now “financially independent and free” — but what prevented Shutterfly from launching its own subscription service (perhaps one even tied into any of the other apps it’s acquired) instead of spending $14.5 million? Apart from a reported 500,000 paid subscribers, “adding GrooveBook to our family of brands,” Shutterfly says, “will introduce a new photo book form factor while leveraging the viral, social, and word of mouth nature of the GrooveBook mobile apps.” Those many sub-brands now include Tiny Prints, Penguin Digital, Wedding Paper Divas, R and R Images, Treat, MyPublisher, and ThisLife.