Shutterfly acquires photo-printing subscription service



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.

Adobe acquires imaging developer Aviary

adobe logo

aviary screen

The leading imaging software company has taken in one of the most successful startups of recent years: Adobe acquired Aviary, and “together we will build and connect the next generation of creative applications, “Aviary says.

Adobe says Aviary has “an exceptional team and technology platform, as well as expertise serving a robust developer ecosystem.”

Privately held Aviary notes its more than 100 million downloads of its photo-editing apps, as well as its free SDK offered to third-party developers. “This allows us to extend our technology and creative tools not only to Aviary app users, but to users of thousands of other creative mobile apps that today are used by millions of people to edit billions of images each month.”

Also of interest: Aviary says its headquarters in New York City “is very close to the offices of Behance, the creative community that joined Adobe 18 months ago – and that is now a cornerstone of Adobe’s Creative Cloud offering.”

Up next: the companies “will continue to support and enhance Aviary’s SDK as part of Adobe’s broader Creative SDK offering. While ensuring no interruption to Aviary’s developer community, or their apps’ users, we plan to add additional components and services for developers to incorporate – such as the ability to save creations to Creative Cloud in Adobe file formats, access Photoshop technology, and connect creativity across devices using the Creative SDK.”

Google acquires image-analyzing startup Jetpac



San Francisco-based startup Jetpac is the latest Google acquisition, bringing new imaging techniques to the search leader.
The purchase amount was not disclosed.

For its Jetpac City Guides, the company algorithmically scanned images to determine how much people liked a location — by recognizing, say, how many photos with smiling faces were taken there. The result could provide unique contextual information.

It addition to the photo analyzing application, Jetpac has tools for real-time local object recognition, and its technology is reportedly based on the work of a Google researcher.

There’s more information here, here, and here.


Calumet Photographic acquired at bankruptcy auction



A 75-year-old retail photography chain has a new owner: Chicago-based Calumet Photo’s US assets were acquired in bankruptcy proceedings by C&A Marketing.

The Calumet chain closed its 14 stores and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in March 2014. C&A says it is “currently evaluating which, if any, stores to re-open” but will be reactivating all of Calumet’s on-line properties.

C&A Marketing has already snapped up Ritz Camera, Inkley’s, Wolf Camera, and Camera World under similar circumstances. C&A says it is a global manufacturer, distributor and online reseller of cameras and photographic equipment, with  more than 20 years of experience in sourcing and retail operations in the photographic industry. It’s also the licensee for the Polaroid brand in instant digital imaging products, action cameras, IP home security cameras, and photo accessories.

C&A says it plans to incorporate the Calumet assets into its Ritz portfolio, and “views this acquisition as a key component to now providing the highest level of photography professionals the best in products and services. Calumet has a strong, loyal customer base which is the best foundation to build and rebuild on.”

More information is here.


Google sells Motorola to Lenovo

android icon

android iconEasy come, easy go: Google bought Motorola in 2012 for $12.4 billion — and has now sold it for about $3B to Chinese PC maker Lenovo.

It’s not a complete loss for Google: it’s free of the complication of competing with other hardware manufacturers that use its Android operating system. Also, Motorola Mobility had $2.9 billion in cash when it was first acquired; Google in the meantime sold off a side business in set-top boxes for $2.24 billion — and most importantly, Google is keeping the mobile patents which were the primary reason it bought Motorola in the first place, and which it values at $5B.

Lenovo is the world’s largest personal-computer maker, and, if this sale goes through, would be the third-largest smartphone vendor, according to Bloomberg’s report here.


Large-format photography: Leica buys Sinar

sinar camera

sinar camera

Seven years ago Leica first tried to take control of Sinar. This week it succeeded.

The German maker of pricey cameras acquired the Swiss manufacturer of professional view cameras for an undisclosed amount, it was reported Tuesday. Leica says the Sinar product portfolio “offers everything from cameras and lenses to digital backs, shutter systems and workflow software.”

The takeover completes Leica’s portfolio “in the high-end digital camera segment and further expands its position in the market for professional photographic equipment,” Leica added, as reported by the British Journal of Photography. “Leica now possesses a complete product portfolio from a medium format digital camera system to digital view cameras and, as a result of the takeover, is now the only full range provider of digital camera systems in formats larger than the 35mm Leica full-frame format.”

Product management and production will remain in Switzerland.
Financial details were not disclosed.


Shutterfly acquires photo printer R&R Images

r and r images


r and r images

While most of us were relaxing in the last days of summer, online photo service Shutterfly showed no sign of slowing down and acquired yet another company.

This time it was no young start-up: boutique printer R&R Images launched in 1986. The privately-held Phoenix, Arizona-based business’ “product innovation and expertise in premium, flexible printing will enhance Shutterfly’s enterprise and consumer product innovation, design and printing capabilities,” the company says. “As Shutterfly continues to grow, we are making additional strategic investments in our manufacturing footprint focused on providing our customers with innovative, high quality personalized products while efficiently scaling and managing our costs.”


$1B: Yahoo acquires Tumblr, updates Flickr

yahoo flickr

But no, it didn’t buy the missing “E” in each site’s name.

Online media company Yahoo! paid approximately $1.1 billion to acquire the popular photo sharing and blogging site Tumblr — and CEO Marissa Mayer says they “promise not to screw it up.”

Tumblr will continue independently, Yahoo adds. David Karp, who founded the site in 2007, will stay on as CEO. “The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve,” Yahoo says.

When you already own dozens of sites and brands, why buy another? Tumblr hosts 105 million different blogs, with 900 posts per second, Yahoo says, and its more than 300 million monthly unique visitors and 120,000 signups every day make it “one of the fastest-growing media networks in the world.” And Yahoo plans to accelerate that growth: “The combination of Tumblr+Yahoo! could grow Yahoo’s audience by 50 percent to more than a billion monthly visitors, and could grow traffic by approximately 20 percent.”

yahoo flickr

But lets not forget Yahoo already owns another image-centric site, one it bought only a few years ago. Flickr was once the favored online photo sharing site, but has faced criticism since the $35 million acquisition in 2005.

Not its getting a revamp with higher resolution images, more free storage, and an improved Android app.

First, Flickr says it’s now the only site to provide each person a full terabyte of free storage — enough for more than a half-million photos. [Flickr now stores 8 billion photos.]

Second, it’s easier to share shots with other services.

Third, the site sports a revamped appearance with full-screen shots and streamlined functionality.

And finally: the recently iOS app improved uploads 25 percent, the company says, and it hopes to duplicate that success with the new Android version.


Shutterfly Acquires MyPublisher

shutterfly logo etc


shutterfly logo etc

When I first heard about custom photobooks, it was in 2001 or so at a face-to-face meeting with Carl Navarre, the founder of MyPublisher. As dozens of other companies have come and gone in the photofinishing and books business in the many years since then, MyPublisher remained an ongoing independent venture.

No more:  Shutterfly — the company that has acquired a wide range of smaller firms as well as taking over the Gallery online picture business Kodak left behind — has now added MyPublisher to its long list of assets.

MyPublisher is “one of the pioneers in the photo book industry,” Shutterfly says, “and creator of easy-to-use photo book-making software.”

The acquisition will combine MyPublisher’s photo book technology and highly specialized manufacturing capabilities with the Shutterfly platform to deliver a superior customer experience, the company adds.

Analyst Hans Hartman of Suite 48 Analytics believes the acquisition will bolster Shutterfly’s mobile offerings with MyPublisher’s revamped HTML 5-based technology platform. “At PMA@CES in January, MyPublisher COO Dwight Blaha described how his company has made the transition from being a desktop software company to one that offers a website and photo apps,” Hartman says. “At the end of March the company launched KeepShot, a nicely designed iPad-only app for creating photobooks.” Shutterfly’s iPad app “has limited functionality,” he adds, “that does not let users create or order any photo products (unlike its newer sibling Shutterfly for iPhone).  Its user ratings have circled around 2.5, while those of Shutterfly for iPhone are closer to 4.5.  The qualitative analysis I did as part of the Tablet Photo App Opportunity Report suggested that Shutterfly for iPad’s low user ratings were mostly a result of its users expecting more: they want to create and order photo products directly on their iPads.”


British retailing: Timpson buys Snappy Snaps

timpson and snappy snip


timpson and snappy snip

UK-based Timpsons has acquired the Snappy Snaps chain of 120 photo specialty shops.

London-based Snappy Snaps was founded in 1983. “All branches are franchised and the company has a consistent record of profitability,” Timpson says.

The Timpson company has more than 750 shoe repair, key cutting and watch repair shops. It already owns 200 Max Spielmann photo outlets in the north of England. “Since we bought Max Spielmann four years ago, the shops have been transformed from a traditional photo processor into a very successful photo format specializing in passport photos, portraits and photo gifts,” the company says. “Snappy Snaps have also kept ahead of trends in the digital market and their geographical distribution is a perfect fit with Max Spielmann.”

“Coming after the news of the demise of Jessops, this is good news,” says our own PMA Director of UK Activities Nigel McNaught. “It signifies that someone, in this case John Timpson, (Timpsons is a family owned business) is prepared to invest, and sees a future in photo products.”