Photobucket’s 2012 Year in Review

Every year around this time, I like to pause and take a moment to reflect on the past 12 months and think about the successes and lessons learned while planning ahead for the next 365 days. It’s been a whirlwind of a year, but we’ve certainly got a lot to celebrate – and much more to look forward to in 2013!

Photobucket marked 2012 by transforming the act of photosharing into the art of storytelling. As the world’s leading consumer service dedicated to preserving and sharing the entire photo and video lifecycle, we are committed to being the one place where you can keep all your memories – and do literally anything you want with them, whether that’s emailing an album link, embedding in your blog, creating a social scrapbook or even designing traditional photo gifts for giving to friends and family.

Numbers-wise, we continued to keep our momentum up, thanks to our very active, very loyal base of users. Thanks to you, we’re still the largest dedicated photo and video site, hosting more than 10 billion images from 100 million registered members, who upload more than four million images and videos per day from the Web and connected digital devices. That’s a lot of memories entrusted to us, and we don’t take that responsibility lightly. In fact, our customer support team took to social media this year in full force via a dedicated Twitter handle and Facebook team to respond to your questions, comments and concerns.

Most recently, we celebrated the launch of Photobucket Stories with a $25,000 Life’s an Adventure contest, in which we received more than 4,700 entries, thanks to an active and engaged community (1M+ strong on Facebook!). It was a close race, with more than 475,000 of you taking to social media to get in on the action and cast your vote for your favorites by entering, commenting, liking and sharing them. In the end, though, Summer Brennan was crowned our champ with her touching story about her adventures in horse training titled, “Amado: Befriending a Wild Mustang.”

As evidenced in Summer’s tale, Photobucket Stories provides users with an easy new way to combine photos and videos into complete, sharable narratives – with photos, video, text, social collaboration and sharing capabilities, and more (see another great example here). It’s something we’ve worked very hard on and were proud to include on the heels of our release of the all-new beta Photobucket user experience this year. As a result, the site has seen significant increases in user engagement, as Stories continues to help us transform the act of photosharing into the art of storytelling.

Another exciting development that combined the power of Stories with the popularity of holiday cheer was our promotion with Twentieth Century Fox’s family movie comedy, PARENTAL GUIDANCE. This partnership marked our first launch of a marketing campaign including the Photobucket “Stories” platform. PARENTAL GUIDANCE Stories includes an inside look at both families – “old school” and “new school” – featured in the film, along with their respective (and humorous!) generational differences.

Along with those developments, we announced an exciting partnership with Windows 8 as a photography app available in the new Windows Store to help users encourage and enhance their creativity. We also took some time out to focus on the little things with our dedicated PB Loves gallery, which is a collection of things that make the Photobucket staff happy, whether it’s a favorite photograph, funny snapshots or moment that’s been memorialized – all put together to keep inspiring you.

So, as you can see, we’ve had quite the year, and we’re excited to carry on the positive momentum into the next year and beyond, with plans for more product enhancements, mobile updates and launches, additions in functionality and features, new and novel tools…and much, much more.

A few sneak peeks? As we continue to evolve the all-new Photobucket site, we’ve added all the features that linkers love, plus we’ll also be rolling out an improved editor and evolving the new Plus service to better suit your needs. Stay tuned for more details soon!

Thank you again for your support this past year, and we look forward to celebrating and sharing more milestones with you in 2013.

-Tom

Five simple tips for taking memorable vacation photos

By Tom Munro, CEO2011-11-26130016

It’s hard to believe that winter break has already come and gone. I managed to sneak out and take my son skiing last weekend, and I hope you had a chance to squeeze in some family together time before the kids go back to school. Not only do vacations provide families a much-needed break from the daily grind, but I also think they’re a great opportunity to capture some special moments together. And because of that, I wanted to share a few of my favorite quick tips to help you capture those memories while traveling:

  1. Make a plan for power. Not it’s not as fun as thinking about cool backdrops or funny poses, but the simple fact is that dead batteries ruin great photo opportunities. Learn to manage power with spare batteries and chargers (plan ahead with a power adapter, if you’re going international), and you’ll never miss that epic “shot that could have been.”
  2. Protect your gear. Cameras and smartphones are particularly susceptible to damage from moisture and falls, so take proper precautions, especially if you’re active. Invest in a padded, waterproof camera bag, keep memory cards away from anything with a magnetic field while going through airport security, and consider picking up a pack of silica gel to further reduce moisture, if you’re headed someplace humid.
  3. Avoid clichéd shots. Resist the urge to pose people awkwardly in front of landmarks and monuments. Not only will your family’s patience wear thin (I speak from experience), but it also makes for generic pictures post-vacation. Instead, make it a game to challenge the group to create clever poses and compositions that haven’t been done before.
  4. Plant the seed. Usually one person assumes the role of unofficial family photographer, but don’t let that be the default on family trips! They don’t have to be expensive – even a drugstore point-and-shoot will do – but giving kids cameras is a great way to keep them entertained as they capture the vacation from their perspective. You may be pleasantly surprised at what they can come up with!  
  5. Remember the three B’s: Bring storage, Back up files – and above all, Be creative! The first two are pretty self-explanatory; there’s no use in taking the time to take great photos if you run out of shots the second day of the trip or – I hate to even say it – accidentally delete everything. So pack ample storage, and remember to regularly transfer photos to your online account (Photobucket!) to make sure those memories are safe. But, bottom line, enjoy your camera, experiment with new lenses, functions and features and just have fun with photography on your trip. Whether it’s an international excursion or a short staycation, you’re making memories that are worth capturing.

59A05577-origIf you have any other tips to add, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

-Tom

Photobucket Momentum – Building on a Great Year & Looking Ahead

Before really jumping fully into the New Year (I can’t believe it’s already February) I wanted to stop for a minute and look back on the past year, think about how far we have come, and to thank you all for being a part of it. We really had a great year at Photobucket, and there is more excitement to come.

In 2011, Photobucket, cemented its position as the most-visited photo site in 2011, celebrated a partnership with Twitter, released its Snapbucket photo-editing mobile application, and grew the leadership team with the additions of several key executives. When I look at those milestones, I’m pleased with the work our teams have done to advance Photobucket in the market. 

By all accounts, the numbers are staggering. By the end of 2011, we boasted nearly 9.5 billion photo and video uploads with an average of five million new uploads each day, plus more than four billion images and videos served each day to more than two million unique sites. Additionally, Photobucket received nearly one million new registered users each month. This means that more and more, consumers are turning to Photobucket as the place to store all of their memories which I find very flattering.

Early in the summer, we were able to capitalize on the heightened interest in mobile photos by releasing Snapbucket, which complements our flagship Photobucket Mobile app. Snapbucket enables users to “snap” photos from their mobile device, personalize those photos through unique filters, effects, vignettes and frames, and then easily share with their social community. On this front, there is much more to come. 

Photobucket also announced a groundbreaking partnership with Twitter in 2011; as you likely know, Photobucket powers Twitter's native photo sharing capabilities, allowing users to easily upload and share photos directly in Tweets. This partnership reflected the synergy between both companies’ growth strategies and audience needs, delivering a simple, intuitive user experience for photo sharing. We’re pleased with the momentum, and expect to see increased growth as consumers see the native simplicity of adding photos to their Tweets. 

Photobucket shows no signs of stopping this positive momentum in 2012, with plans for subsequent product enhancements and launches, additions in functionality and features, new and novel editing tools, plus an updated look and feel for the website. Here is a video of me talking about video and photo trends if you are interested in hearing more.

 

Thank you to all of you for your support!

-Tom

 

From the CES floor to the floor of the Grand Canyon…

By Tom Munro, CEO

CES 2012 was the second largest in its history, and the sheer scope of exhibitors, attendees and product announcements was impressive. I spent a good portion of my time in meetings, but had a unique opportunity to be whisked away from the madness, and experience one of our greatest national treasures first hand.

Nokia hosted an event to which David Toner, our VP of Marketing, and I were lucky enough to be invited. It began with a limo ride, where we headed straight to a heliport near McCarran International. Destination? The Grand Canyon. Armed with the brand new Lumia 800 series Windows phones (pre-US release) we flew in seven helicopters right down to the floor of the canyon. Enjoying near perfect weather, we departed the helicopters to be greeted by unparalleled beauty, with some snacks and champagne to boot.

IMG_0510-1(1)Two and a half hours removed from the hustle and bustle of CES, we were in the midst of breathtaking scenery, some of which I captured with the Lumia 800. Not only did the camera have a very solid feel with comfortable dimensions, but it also has quite a unique look. Through an “unexpected drop-test” (i.e. accident), I found no evidence of impact, and because of the solid color of the body, no visible scratches. A must-have for an active dad.

Nokia’s host, Brett Murray, couldn’t have conceived of a more picture-perfect event. And, the company’s ingenuity and product design were well rewarded back in Las Vegas, when they won CNET’s Best of CES Award for Mobile Phones http://cnet.co/wonAFk. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures we captured, and I know this is an experience I won’t soon forget. Thank you so much to our hosts for such a fantastic opportunity!

-Tom

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year! Starting 2012 on a Positive Note

By Tom Munro, CEO

A new year is upon us, and I always like to use this time to take the lessons learned from the previous 12 months and apply them as we set goals for the next 12 months. Did you achieve what you set out to accomplish in 2011? Why or why not? And what changes can be made to make your 2012 even more successful, both personally and professionally?

Here at Photobucket, we were fortunate enough to end 2011 on a high note (see my previous posts here and here). But we are even more excited to be carrying that positive momentum into 2012: Recently, the website Top Ten Reviews ranked Photobucket as #1 in their roundup of the “2012 Best Photo Sharing Service Comparisons and Reviews.” And thanks to our partnership with Twitter last year, research recently revealed that Twitter’s own photo-sharing feature (powered by Photobucket) now powers nearly half of all the photos shared on the micro-blogging site. You can read more about the findings Colleen Taylor’s GigaOm article here.

Perhaps the best part of a new year, however, is that’s there’s so much opportunity on the horizon. At Photobucket, we’ve got some great things up our sleeves for the next 12 months (I can’t spill the beans just yet, but be sure to stay tuned). But I also want to invite you to share your thoughts on how we can improve Photobucket over the course of the next year. We’re continually evolving, and everything we do is with you, our users, in mind, so please feel free to share any feedback and ideas on how we can make it the best possible experience for you.

Thanks for your continued support, and here’s to 2012!

-Tom

Embracing SLR Cameras

by Tom Munro, CEO

With the holidays just around the corner, many of us will be eager to capture special moments by taking photos of friends and family. And with the popularity of SLR cameras on the rise, I thought I would provide a few tips to help you get started. Even though most SLRs feature preset shooting modes, transitioning from a point-and-shoot can still be quite overwhelming. Despite this learning curve, the results can be very rewarding, so just take it slow and be patient. You will love the pictures you can take!  

First, read your instructions. It may seem simple, but this is often something we overlook when buying new electronic ‘toys.’ Sure, some gadgets are self-explanatory, but your camera’s instruction booklet is an important one to read. It will walk you through all the features of your camera so you’ll be able to make the most of your investment.

Next – start exploring the menus and settings. Bloggers Kevin and Amanda say you should prioritize learning the concepts of Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority. This will go a long way in helping you understand lighting, depth of field and where to focus. And then you’ll be able to get those great, dramatic photos where one object is in focus and the background is blurred. Lifehacker also has some great tips to check out as you’re exploring, too.

Then, practice! Don’t wait until you are at the family Christmas party or the New Year’s Eve party you are hosting or you may miss those fleeting moments you want to capture on film. Instead, set up a time to try your hand at different techniques at home with your dogs, kids, friends, significant other – basically, anyone and anything you can use as a subject. The point of this is to just get comfortable with your SLR.

Finally, take off the auto mode training wheels and put your camera into manual mode – this is, in fact, why you decided to get an SLR in the first place. In part two of Lifehacker’s look at SLR cameras, they break down how to use your camera in full manual mode. The possibilities are limitless, so don’t be afraid to try new things here – you never know, you might stumble upon something amazing!

Don’t have a SLR or are hoping to get a one for Christmas? Here are the top SLR cameras of 2011 according to ZDNet. Good luck, and happy snapping this season.

-Tom

Photobucket is 10 Billionth App Downloaded from Android Market

By Tom Munro, CEO

We recently received some exciting news this week that we wanted to share. The Android Market crossed 10 billion apps downloaded this past weekend, and the Android team called us earlier this week to let us know that it was our Photobucket Mobile App!

We want to congratulate Android for this accomplishment – not only is 10 billion an incredible feat, but the amount of time in which this was accomplished is impressive – especially if you take a look at the last six months in which Android Market went from 6 billion to 10 billion downloads – it is staggering. But it’s really no surprise to us at Photobucket, because we know how rabid our Photobucket Mobile users are for Android. In fact, there are currently more than four million total installs of the Photobucket Mobile App for Android, and our mobile image uploads are approximately 400% higher on Android than what they are on the iPhone.

Photobucket actually has two popular mobile apps available for Android Market – the Photobucket Mobile App for Android and Snapbucket for Android, which allows users to snap, style, and share photos. Both apps are free, have an average rating of 4.1 in Android Market, and have several features exclusive to Android, including a patented auto-uploader that enables users to automatically upload all photos and videos from their phone to their Photobucket account.

Also interesting is that Photobucket’s mobile video uploads that have increased 14x since December 2010, driven in large part by the active Android user base.  Currently Android is driving about 40% of all Photobucket video uploads.

The improved quality of photos and videos from camera phones, ease of uploading, and constant availability are making them the default device for image capturing and sharing. The Photobucket Mobile app auto-uploader is making the process of uploading and sharing so seamless that we expect this growth trend to increase even more.

Congrats to Android on this accomplishment, thank you to our Photobucket employees for helping to make such powerful apps for the marketplace, and a big thank you to our customers (including the actual 10 billionth downloader!), for your loyalty and support!

-Tom

Giving Thanks for a Great Year

By Tom Munro, CEO of Photobucket

It has been a great year for Photobucket and the photo-sharing industry overall. For our company, 2011 has seen the launch of our second mobile app, Snapbucket, a partnership with Twitter, enormous growth in our user and upload numbers, and so much more. For the industry as a whole, 2011 has brought an amazing array of new apps, devices, cameras and companies, all looking to capitalize on the momentum of this hot market.

I am extremely thankful to be a part of both the industry and a fantastic company such as Photobucket, so – in keeping with the theme of the season – I wanted to share some thoughts on things I am specifically thankful for as the CEO of Photobucket and the husband and father to a great family.

First I want to say thank you to our loyal Photobucket customers. We are grateful for your patronage, not to mention your love of Photobucket. Everything I do, every decision I make, is based on what I think is best for you, and you help us by giving us input on new products, site design and more. In fact, we are right in the middle of a significant product redesign of which our users have been the major source of input. I am very thankful to have customers who care enough to spend the time to help us make our site and our products better.

I am also extremely grateful for our employees – it has really been a incredible year. We have grown together, played at the dude ranch and worked hard to drive changes at Photobucket. A big thank-you goes out to them for the late nights, early mornings and continual thoughts on how to make Photobucket THE place for a lifetime of photos and videos.

We also have a fantastic management team from whom I have asked – and continue to ask – a lot. I love collaborating with them and am thankful for their tireless work and friendship. In addition, we have great investors who see the vision of where Photobucket is headed. I appreciate their patience, advice and well-timed reality checks. 

Finally, it has been a fantastic year at home. My 10 and 13 year-old boys love to camp, ski, fish, golf and just “hang” with dad. It doesn't get any better than that. Our second oldest daughter headed off to school, which was a sad event, but it is exciting to see her success at college. And, as always, I am thankful to my wife for being the glue that binds our family.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving. While times are difficult, our problems always seem lighter as we are surrounded by family and good food.   

The Digital Camera Conundrum

By Tom Munro, CEO

Photographs continue to be the most popular method for sharing experiences with friends and family, so I still get a bit surprised every time I run across an article talking about the decline of the digital camera. This piece from PC Advisor, for example, states that a recent survey found that a whopping 42 percent of digital camera owners don’t take photos.

The survey also revealed that more than half of these inactive owners (52 percent) ideally do want to spend time taking pictures, which leads me to believe that, while the spirit is willing, the will to read the owner’s manual or to be disciplined enough to move images from memory card to computer can often be weak!

Among those who are actively snapping shots, there’s certainly a flurry of activity when it comes to organizing and sharing these memories: More than three quarters said they store images digitally on their PC or external hard drive, while 38 percent said they print them using their home printer and 37 percent share them on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.

So where’s the breakdown? I’d be willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of people want to be more active when it comes to recording their life’s memories on film, but in this day and age, it’s just hard to find the time to be consistent about it. To me, the answer lies in making it a seamless process, enabling people to shoot, save and share painlessly. And it’s exactly that principle on which Photobucket was founded. Whether it’s automatic uploads, a user-friendly mobile app, free lifetime storage, the ability to share amongst social networks with ease or a host of editing tools available, we want to be where the memories of your life reside.

So far we’re at nine billion photos and videos – and counting – so we know you’re as excited about saving and sharing memories as we are. But what do you think? What else would make you more apt to capture all those memorable moments?

-Tom

Straight Talking with Photobucket CEO Tom Munro

Did you miss Tom Munro’s live interview with Inc.com on Wednesday, October 26? Tom sat down in the hot seat to field questions from Inc.com viewers to talk about the future of online phone and video storage management and how he and the Photobucket team are always updating the user experience to address and anticipate users’ needs and to make sure each experience is optimal.

For those of you not familiar with the Inc.com interview series, every Wednesday Inc does a live chat with CEOs to discuss their business and allow viewers to ask questions of CEOs. In addition to talking about the industry as a whole, Tom recapped some of the recent Photobucket stats and they are truly unbelievable – if we do say so ourselves. We host 9 billion photos – the nearest dedicated photo sharing competitor is Flickr who hosts 5 million photos to put it in perspective. We serve 3 billion photos a day and receive 65 million unique visitors to our Web site each month. A big thank you to our users who are just as passionate about photos as we are!

For those of you that missed the chat, we have summarized Tom’s interview and included a few highlights below:

How did you reinvigorate the culture at Photobucket?

This was certainly my #1 challenge – culture is always hard to change and it takes dramatic effort and action. I changed about half the team in order to reinvigorate our culture and made sure that every employee understood the Photobucket vision and what we want to convey around the user experience. We are all very passionate about what we do and truly have the desire to drive Photobucket to the next level.

Where do you see photo hosting in 5 years?

Right now, a huge number of photos are being uploaded to Facebook each day. But what’s important to note is that most people don’t upload ALL of their photos to Facebook, it’s only the few they want to share with everyone. And Facebook isn’t the only social network where people are uploading photos. Google+ and other sites are starting to become more popular. The common theme here is that users don’t have one place where all their photos reside and that is what Photobucket is trying to resolve. We are the place to store and have a record of ALL your memories through photos and videos.

How do you differentiate from Flickr?

We want photo storing and sharing to be free to a majority of our users – so that we can be the place where it’s easy and free to store all of your photos and videos.

Are there any challenges with Photobucket’s business model?

Really the most challenging part is balancing the user experience and the ads. The ads are what drive revenue for our site and allow us to keep accounts free, but I have had to pull down some ads in the past that have hurt our user experience. Our first goal is create a great user experience and to keep the site mainly free.

Remember, these are just the highlights from the interview – make sure to watch the whole video when you have a moment. You can hear more about why Tom thinks he should really be a scientist and how he can speak fluent Japanese. We also have many exciting products coming out over the next few months, so make sure to check back soon. We are confident our users will be really excited!