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Look out Flickr – Photobucket Is Making a Comeback

Photobucket CEO talks to WPN about company's new direction

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Remember photo sharing website Photobucket? The service slid off the radar for a few years, but according to company CEO Tom Munro, it’s back and ready to compete.

What photo sharing site do you use most often? Let us know.

For a quick history lesson, Photobucket was founded back in 2003 and really became a website for hosting image and video content on Myspace. News Corporation acquired it in 2007, and as Munro explained to us, even though Photobucket and Myspace were together under the same ownership, they, ironically, didn’t integrate.

What’s even more ironic is that Myspace built its own photo hosting solution. However, because of its association with Myspace, Photobucket wasn’t able to make any connections with Facebook. Since the service was declining, Fox wanted to sell it.

In December of 2009, Photobucket spun out from News Corp. and merged with mobile company Ontela. Munro says this move was “the beginning of the road for the turning point.”

This merger with Ontela brought Photobucket not only investors, which funded the spinout, but it also brought mobile technology and patents. In addition to this, Ontela brought 20 million online monthly unique visitors in the U.S.

“What we saw is, early on with Ontela, that photos were moving to mobile devices,” said Munro.

Previously, Photobucket was Web-focused, but with Ontela, the company began to target mobile. Through this focus, the company has developed apps such as the photo-filtering app Snapbucket and built up its mobile user base to nearly 6 million.

Now, the company wants to tie these goals together and provide a “ubiquitous experience between Web and mobile.”

Photobucket is also reinventing itself in other areas such as its recent partnership with Twitter. As part of the partnership, Photobucket will host the images that users upload to Twitter. Munro told us that the partnership would not only bring in revenue, but that it would also help drive awareness and traffic since every photo will have a caption that says, “Powered by Photobucket.”

“From a branding perspective, it really helps bring some of that mojo back that Photobucket had,” he said.

He went on to say that they were currently in talks with other companies in regards to more partnerships.

As for the future of Photobucket, Munro indicated that the service would make advances in video. He said they had noticed a 300 percent increase in video uploads in the last 3 months and that they believed this trend would continue. They are planning to add a video feature to Snapbucket soon as well.

“It a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video has to be exponentially more,” he added.

It appears that Photobucket is on the right track to making a full comeback, but the road getting there was anything but easy. Munro said, “In some ways, I think a spin off is even more difficult than even a startup.”

He told us that the biggest challenge was changing the culture from a corporate one to one that was innovative and more aligned with a startup. To help encourage this new environment, Photobucket shuts down for a week every six months to concentrate only on innovative products. The company has seen new apps and services born as a result of this endeavor.

Do you think Photobucket is moving in the right direction?

Look out Flickr – Photobucket Is Making a Comeback
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