Photobucket: One Big Under the Radar Startup
This week, I met with Photobucket. Until a month ago, I had never heard of them. But their name started to bubble up among the conversations I was having with VCs, and then they came into town.
Photobucket is a company that has bootstrapped its way into attracting aroung 14 million users. And they're adding 2 million users a month. Founded in 2003, the company says its cash flow positive and has in total raised $2.5 million in venture money.
What they do is pretty simple: They do image and video hosting. Essentially, people upload photos, animations, and now videos, to Photobucket, and then they use a little bit of code to put the bits and pieces of their lives on blogs, eBay, Neopets, or 60,000 other sites that work with Photobucket.
There is one thing I found interesting and another thing that I think is confusing. Photobucket decided early on to be a tool, not a community. So they just follow people around, through their lives, as they move from site to site, without worrying about what's hot or not.
But they make their money through advertising, and though they attract a huge audience, their interaction with them is when they're uploading a bit of data. And I am not sure how much that would appeal to advertisers. I guess we'll get a better read on that this year as they develop their direct ad sales force and ramp up that effort.