SAUSALITO, Calif., February 6, 2013 – liveBooks, Inc., a content management platform offering photo sharing, e-commerce and print-on-demand solutions including websites, mobile applications and other digital storefronts for the photography and design industries, today announced the acquisition of San Francisco-based Fotomoto. Fotomoto’s social commerce application integrates seamlessly with websites, blogs, social networks and countless platforms including Facebook, WordPress, Tumblr and Drupal, enabling purchase transactions of images and image-based print-on-demand products.
This is liveBooks’ second acquisition in the past three months. The Fotomoto application will leverage the October 2012 transformational acquisition of Pinhole Press and Pinhole Pro which offers superior quality print-on-demand marketing services and personalized photo gifts that are both elegantly designed and simple to create. The Pinhole Press lifestyle brand has received extensive media attention with recent features in Real Simple, The Wall Street Journal and on The Today Show.
“The acquisition of Fotomoto rounds out our portfolio of differentiated, premium-quality products for the photo community,” said liveBooks President and CEO Andy Patrick. “Joining forces with Fotomoto furthers our commitment of offering photographers the tools they need to effectively manage, share, and sell their work with ultimate simplicity of use for the end consumer.”
With Fotomoto, clients can set up their store in a matter of minutes. Whether they have a few images or they are an enterprise archive with millions of photos, Fotomoto clients simply add a Buy Button and let Fotomoto take care of the billing, printing, packaging, shipping, and even customer support. The E-commerce widget allows for selling digital files and related print-on-demand products right on the client’s site.
“We are very excited to partner with a company such as liveBooks, which is unique in its ability to provide the creative professional with online marketing, workflow and distribution solutions,” said Ahmad Kiarostami, Co- founder of Fotomoto. Kiarostami, who will now be VP Engineering for liveBooks, Inc. added, “We are confident that the combination of these companies provides the industry’s most powerful, highest-quality offering for websites, social commerce and print-on-demand.”
liveBooks also provides the necessary scalability to expand the Fotomoto enterprise business, which now includes companies such asThe Washington Post, Rolling Stone Magazine and the National Wildlife Federation. Patrick added, “This creates a compelling solution for museums, organizations and well-known brands to leverage existing image archives into new revenue streams without having the downside risk associated with creating an inventory of items to sell and hoping they move through retail channels.”
About liveBooks: Founded in 2005, liveBooks, Inc. has developed a reputation as the provider of the industry’s best photography websites and photography website templates, with high profile clients such as Chase Jarvis, Vincent Laforet, Art Wolfe, Joe McNally, Corey Rich, and Richard Avedon. The Company’s core value propositions of elegance in design, quality in product and simplicity in the user experience carry across the full spectrum of digital and print-on-demand offerings. The company’s portfolio of brands includes liveBooks, Pinhole Pro, and Pinhole Press. For more information, please visit www.livebooks.com.
About Fotomoto: Founded in 2008, Fotomoto is an ecommerce system offering photographers, prosumers and large enterprises print-on-demand product from their own site. For more information, please visit www.fotomoto.com.
Posted by liveBooks
One big change that came with our new business model was that sellers would have to pay print costs out of pocket. Until now, these print costs were only payable by a credit card kept on file with your Fotomoto account. However, today, we’ve rolled out a new feature that allows sellers to cover the print costs from their customers’ orders with the same PayPal account they are paid with, keeping accounting to a minimum. To learn how to take advantage of this feature, check out our Knowledge Base article.
We are excited to announce that our new services are up and running. We had originally planned to switch to the new model earlier this week. However Stripe, one of the two major payment systems we support, announced a new service that would make the payment process for our users much more streamlined. We decided to push back the upgrade and implement this new service, which is now deployed.
Starting today, our members would be able to receive their payments immediately, process some or all of their orders at home or at a local print lab, and for a small subscription fee they have the opportunity of paying lower transaction fees. Of course, we still have a free model for users who prefer not to pay a monthly subscription.
We are also happy to announce that we have a new product, framed prints. Go to your dashboard, set your pricing, and start offering framed prints to your clients.
If you have not chosen one of the available subscription models, please log in to your Fotomoto dashboard and select one of the available models. You have to have a valid PayPal or Stripe account linked to your Fotomoto account to be able to continue using Fotomoto.
IMPORTANT: If you haven’t selected a subscription model yet, your Fotomoto account will be deactivated until you choose one of the new models.
As we announced yesterday, we are changing our business model. Instead of one free model, we will have three models: Free, Pro, and Pro Plus.
Since yesterday, one comment has come up multiple times: why we increased the transaction fees for the free account.
We have been offering a high-end product with great support - all for free. Unfortunately, as our community grows, our costs are growing as well, and we can’t offer all this for free anymore. A considerable number of our community members are good photographers who just showcase their photos on their website, while some others are artists or event photographers who are working hard to sell their photos. Up until now, these selling members have been subsidizing the costs of non-selling members, but the growing number of low-transaction users has made us rethink our model.
In order to make the transition easier for free members, we have decided to lower our new free transaction fee from 30% to 25% and that includes the 3% PayPal / Stripe fees. All members will also have the option to pay $10 / month to keep the same 15% transaction fees, which now also includes the 3% PayPal / Stripe fee.
Our plans are:
- Free: No subscription, 22% transaction fee (+3% PayPal/Stripe fee)
- Pro: $10 monthly subscription, 12% transaction fee (+3% PayPal/Stripe fee)
- Pro Plus: $25 monthly subscription, 10% transaction fee (+3% PayPal/Stripe fee)
While the same print products will be available to all users, Pro and Pro Plus members will be able to lightly customize the widget and add their own logo to the widget. Also, Pro Plus members would be able to have multiple accounts under one user.
One of the major changes in Fotomoto’s new model is the way we handle payments.
Up until now, we have been collecting money from buyers, keeping it in escrow for 30 days, subtracting our transaction fees and print costs, and then sending it to sellers.
While the process looked easy at the beginning, this method has caused many complications during the last couple of years. First of all, we ask for the Social Security Number or Tax ID number of all members who have earned more than $600 / year to generate their W-9 forms, but some members were not happy with giving out this information. Additionally, we get requests to release the photographers’ money immediately. And many members have asked to add PayPal to our service.
Another problem was we were already paying transaction fees to the credit card processing companies to collect money, but our members had to pay another 3% to receive their money from us via PayPal. This was another 5-6% in transaction fees, split between us and the photographers.
With the new model, we are asking the photographers to provide their own payment account, so we could directly deposit the money to their account. For now, we will be offering PayPal and Stripe as payment methods, but over time we will offer more payment methods (Amazon Payments, Google Checkout, and possibly others such as Moneybookers). Members will have to enter their account information with these payment companies into our system. You will need at least one account activated (PayPal, Stripe, or both) before you can use Fotomoto.
Fotomoto will still handle the payment transaction process, but payments will be made directly to your own account. With a Stripe account activated, buyers will stay on Fotomoto’s widget to make their payment. Otherwise, buyers will be redirected to a PayPal page to make their payment.
We will be looking for ways to lower the payment costs for our members. For the time being, we will give a 3% credit to our Free and Pro users. This means our transaction fees for Free members is 22% (+3% to payment company), while Pro members would pay 12% (+3% to payment company). Pro Plus members will pay 10% (+3% to payment company).
Please note that with the old system, our members were paying 3% to get their money via PayPal. In the new system, we are covering that cost for them.
UPDATE: Numbers in this post have been modified to better show the transaction fees and PayPal / Stipe fees. Also, we have two new posts about Payments In The New Model and More Details On The New Plans.
This month, we are making a major change in Fotomoto’s model which we believe will help us improve the quality of our service for our members. This includes changing both our business model and our process model.
BUSINESS MODEL CHANGES
We have a very colorful set of members in our community: photo enthusiasts, photo bloggers, event photographers, sports photographers, and some big brands and organizations. Some of these members sell a lot of photos, and some don’t sell many. Art photographers generally sell at higher price points while event photographers usually keep their pricing lower. Some are hobbyists without many sales, and some have audiences of millions of visitors. In short, our members with sales have been subsidizing the costs of our users with little or no revenue because we have been offering the same service with the same pricing model to all of our members. We think we can improve our service by offering different models for our members to pick from.
Starting October 10th, we will begin offering 3 models. Our members will have one week to choose one of the offered models. Starting October 15th, we will stop offering our service in its current form. In order to continue using our service, our users must switch to one of these models:
- Free: Free members continue using Fotomoto for their sites with no subscription fee. Free members will pay 22% transaction fee (+3% PayPal/Stripe fees). New users will be limited to 1 site per account (it will be possible to use different email addresses for different sites / accounts).
- Pro: Pro members pay a $10 monthly subscription fee and a 12% transaction fee (+3% PayPal/Stripe fees). This will let members keep more of their transaction while paying a small $10 fee for the service. New Pro users are limited to 1 site per account.
- Pro Plus: Pro Plus members pay a $25 monthly subscription fee and a reduced 10% transaction fee (+3% PayPal/Stripe fees). There is no limit on the number of stores for Pro Plus members.
With these new plans, there would be no more 30-day “payment pending” period. Our members would set up their PayPal or Stripe account with their Fotomoto account because sales will be directly deposited to those accounts.
All of our current users will be able to maintain their existing sites, even if they have more than one site in their account. Normally, this feature would be only available to Pro Plus members.
PROCESS MODEL CHANGES
Since our launch, we have been working with different print labs and while we continue to recommend them to our members, we recognize that we have many different users with a variety of needs. Having a single quality / pricing option is not the best way to address all members’ needs. Additionally, many members have been asking about printing their own orders. So we are opening up our API and letting our members choose between our print lab partners, or printing themselves. Over time, we will add more print labs to our print partner network, so our members can enjoy more options while they continue using our automated service to fulfill their print orders.
HOW IT WORKS
If you want Fotomoto’s print partners to process your orders, you will also have to provide your credit card information which will be used to cover the print cost.
You will have the option to set Fotomoto to automatically process your orders (as we are doing now) or set it to manual mode. In manual mode, you will be able to submit your orders to the print partner of your choice with one click or print them yourself (at home or at your local print lab). When you print yourself, Fotomoto will still send order update information to your customers.
During the next couple of weeks, we will be publishing more information about the new process. We know no one likes to get too many “update emails”, so we will only publish our news and updates in our blog. To get the updates and news about the process, please check our blog and follow our tweets.
As always, you can let us know your thoughts and comments in our community.
When we launched our new homepage, we mentioned that we were showing off our clients. The Fotomoto family is growing, and more enterprises are using Fotomoto than ever before. We’re shifting our focus from individuals to organizations, and we want to share some of them with you. These include:
- Recently-launched image portfolio site Pixu.
- Website builder Virb.
- CityIT’s Fotomoto plug-in for Drupal.
- New and improved Turning Gate’s Lightroom plug-in, with continued Fotomoto support
- Historical archive site Philly History.
- California’s oldest newspaper The Mountain Democrat, part of Northern California group McNaughton Newspapers.
Welcome to the family, we are excited to have you with us.
Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows that the NASA has set off to investigate whether Mars ever supported life. Since its landing on August 5th, the Mars Curiosity rover has slowly been transmitting photographs back to Earth, and NASA has been releasing them to the public. Using black and white images from NASA/JPL-Caltech, Estonian 360cities.net user Andrew Bodrov stitched together, recolored, and added a sun to create an awe inspiring panoramic (see ABC’s coverage).
While Bodrov is quoted by Talking Points Memo as having said, “NASA still has not published enough source materials to assemble a complete panorama,” those of us here at Fotomoto feel that the touched up panoramic still offers a better idea of what it might be like to set foot on Mars than ever before.
100cameras is about making a difference. Established in 2009, they empower marginalized children by giving them cameras and sharing their perspectives with a global audience (see CNN’s coverage). All proceeds from their photographs are given back to their local organization to provide them with basic needs like food, water, shelter, educational resources, general healthcare, and medical supplies. In 2010, 100cameras began using Fotomoto’s simple drop-in code to sell photographs, and they haven’t stopped growing since. To date, they have three completed projects in South Sudan, New York City, and Cuba with plans to launch their fourth project in India this year.
Fotomoto is pleased to be a part of 100cameras’ mission and hopes for their continued success.