Fotomoto’s back — and Bay Photo’s now in charge

Wow, I stepped out for coffee and while I was gone, I seem to have missed some corporate drama. Lucky me.

What’s a “Fotomoto”?

If you are a photographer using SmugMug, Zenfolio, Photoshelter, Fotomerchant, or similar full-service sites, you might never have heard of Fotomoto because you never needed it. SmugMug, Zenfolio, Photoshelter, et al., partner directly with printing companies. SmugMug uses Bay Photo; Zenfolio uses Mpix; Photoshelter uses several services, one of which (BWC Imaging) is right here in Dallas.

Fotomoto is something very different. It is a print order management service that makes photo-ordering possible on websites that that don’t have their own proprietary print-fulfillment arrangements. Photographers can pick the websites that they like best for their design and other qualities, and get print ordering as an add-on from Fotomoto.

What’s different about Fotomoto is that it doesn’t host photos, exactly. And it doesn’t make prints. It’s a middle man. But it works with a large number of different services, including Viewbook, Pixpa, The Turning Gate, Photoblog, Imagevue, Squarespace, lots of WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr photography sites and many more. If you’re one of those weirdos who coded his own website using html, css, javascript, and php, well, you could use Fotomoto, too.

So what happened?

Well, as is so often the case, the folks who actually know aren’t saying much. But this is how it appears to me: In early 2013, Fotomoto was acquired by a photo-hosting site for pros called Livebooks. Some (all?) of the old staff at Fotomoto, um, ceased to work for Fotomoto any more. Then really ugly stuff happened. Orders weren’t being fulfilled. Fotomoto’s site actually went down for a while. Support requests went unanswered. In short, a service that had been doing a really great job and built a great reputation — viz., Fotomoto — suddenly started doing a terrible job. Seems pretty clear it had something to do with the Livebooks acquisition.

But the story has a happy ending. Bay Photo, which had been fulfilling prints for Fotomoto for a good while, purchased Fotomoto — presumably from Livebooks — in late July 2013. As of the start of August 2013, Fotomoto is once again up and running. Some of Fotomoto’s key staff (like awesome customer support guy Derek) are back at work.

And it all matters to me because I’ve just revived my account at Fotomoto. Let the printing begin — or in my case, begin again!

ADDENDUM 8/7/13: Over at PDN I finally found an article that explains more. After acquiring Fotomoto and a couple other smaller companies in early 2013, Livebooks had cash problems. As noted above, things didn’t go well. I mentioned that Fotomoto is now a property of Bay Photo. What I hadn’t known until today is that Livebooks is now owned by Wedding Wire.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Livebooks prefers to write its name “liveBooks”. Cute. I can just barely stand to write “iPhone” and “iPad” but those terms are ubiquitous now and we’re stuck with them. If you write “Iphone” or “I-Phone” people will suspect you just got back from five years in a Tibetan monastery. On the other hand, “liveBooks” to me looks like a mistake. It is not, but I do not feel compelled to conform to their silly branding stylesheet. 


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