|Type||Photo/Video hosting service|
|Founded||San Diego, California (September 1995)|
Webshots is a photo wallpaper and screensaver service owned by Threefold Photos.
Webshots was created in 1995 by Auralis, Inc. in San Diego, California. It was initially a sports oriented screen saver sold at retail for desktop computers. Founders Andrew Laakmann, Danna Laakmann, Nick Wilder, and Narendra Rocherolle migrated the desktop software to the Web and became one of the earliest instances of photo sharing found online. The Webshots Community launched in 1999 as the first photo sharing website with an emphasis on public sharing.
In October 1999, Webshots was sold to Excite@Home for $82.5 million in stock. The service continued to grow and when Excite@Home declared bankruptcy at the end of 2001, the Webshots assets were purchased back by the founders for $2.5 million in cash.
By 2001 Webshots became a profitable company with a combination of revenue streams that included advertising, freemium service, and merchandising. By 2004, Webshots was grossing $15M/year, had more than 200,000 paid subscribers, and was the #1 photo sharing site and top 50 media property per ComScore. In the same year, Alexa ranked Webshots the second largest English language privately held Web media property (behind weather.com). The company was sold to CNET Networks for $71 million in cash. During this period, new photo sharing services began to emerge to service different markets. Flickr became very popular with bloggers and prosumers. Facebook photos took over at universities. Photobucket became the default service on MySpace and SmugMug carved out a paid service for family albums and professional photographers.
On October 25, 2007, CNET announced that it had sold Webshots to American Greetings for $45 million in cash. Webshots joined the American Greetings Interactive unit and was reunited with another former Excite@Home property—the eCard website Blue Mountain.
On October 2, 2012, American Greetings sold Webshots to Threefold Photos, Inc. In May, 2013, Threefold Photos introduced Webshots Wallpaper & Screensaver, a nod to the original service. Webshots Wallpaper & Screensaver is a desktop application for Windows, and comes with a sampler of free high-resolution professional photos. Subscribers have access to over 1,000 images, with new images published daily.
Webshots Business Models
Webshots has been in business since 1995 and has derived revenue from various services, including banner advertising, paid sponsorships, software bundling, branded downloads, client software advertising, co-registration deals, software sales, premium memberships, and print and gift merchandise sales. In 2010 American Greetings bundled Kiwee Toolbar with the Webshots Desktop and generated some complaints and controversy because of the toolbar's labeling as malware. It was unbundled in 2011.
Beginning in October 2012, Threefold Photos debuted a service called Smile. The service is free during a transition period and then will cost users an annual tiered membership based on storage and usage. After the transition period, during which time members were allowed to archive photos, old Webshots accounts were deleted.
Approximately by August 20, 2013, Smile Desktop software has stopped being supported by Threefold Photos and has reverted back to it original base of simply being a Wallpaper and Screensaver add-in for MS Windows, which is also published by Threefold Photos and titled "Webshots Wallpaper & Screensaver". Webshots currently offers a free software version and a premium service ($2.99 monthly, as of 10-01-13) which principally offers subscribers two new professional photos a day. Old account passwords and user names seem to have been carried over from the older (2010)Webshots service. Smile also seems to have been relegated to a web based photo upload and storage service, but no further development has been seen as of 10-1-2013.
- Flickr, a popular Image hosting service with over 51 million members and 6 billion images. Flickr gives its free members 1 terabyte of space to upload content.
- "Excite@Home's Webshots Ranked #1 Online Photo Destination". Business Wire. 2000-04-20.
- "Ocean Beach Webshots is sold for $82 million". San Diego Union Tribune. 1999-12-14.[dead link]
- "Webshots Co-Founders Buy Back Service at $80 Million Discount". Associated Press. 2011-11-30.
- Tedeschi, Bob (2004-05-09). "You Ought To Be in Pixels". The New York Times.
- "Alexa Rankings February 2004". 2004-02-01.
- "CNET Networks to Acquire Webshots; Webshots is Leading Photography Web site; Over 14 Million Monthly Visitors". Business Wire. 2004-07-14. Retrieved 2007-01-05.
- "CNet Sells Webshots for $45 Million". Yahoo! News via AP. 2007-10-25. Archived from the original on 2007-10-28. Retrieved 2007-11-14.