Andy Grove used to ask his Intel co-founder, “if we got kicked out and the board hired a new CEO, what would he do?” Then he would do that. It’s a great exercise. Phanfare 2.0 is the result of that level of soul searching and re-invention. We remained true to the mission of serving the family-oriented photo and video shooter, but everything else was up for re-evaluation. We worked hard to differentiate trends from fads on the Internet and believe we came up with a product that leverages the network and reflects the future of photo and video sharing. All the while, we were thinking about the business model, people’s willingness to pay (Phanfare 2.0 is designed to be as free as possible to as many as possible), and the core needs of the user.
So what has the reaction been? We had 11,000 paying subscribers in the 1.0 system when we made the switch, and we have about 25% of our customers on the 2.0 system, with the rest still needing to be upgraded. As of today we have approximately 48,000 users on the 2.0 system. Not bad since we have been up for a little under 7 weeks.
We have already been actively iterating and adding features to reflect the feedback we have been hearing. Some people said that they wanted to suppress downloading of originals and printing. We thought this was a pro feature, but the people who told us were family photographers. So we added that back in.
Other people have told us that the automatic content notifications that go out to family and friends are too coarse, that they want the ability to suppress notifications to certain people about particular albums going up, so we added that in.
We are working out usability and flow issues and polishing the product. Although Phanfare is nearly 4 years old, in many ways we are approximately 7 weeks old. We are excited to be innovating again and leveraging the true nature of the Internet to deliver a more collaborative experience.
I certainly know the feelings that caused people to love 1.0, since we built the system to fulfill our own needs, but Phanfare 2.0 is actually better. If you have seven friends, and they each protected their Phanfare content in 1.0 with a password, remembering all those URLS and passwords was a nightmare. Now, I am connected to them with my own account and after logging in at www.phanfare.com with my own credentials can see what is happening across my entire personal universe. The result is that I am more aware of what is going on with my family and friends and enjoy digital photography and video more than ever.
I won’t pretend there are not people who are not happy with our new orientation. There are. But overall, they are a minority and I truly believe that they will be better served by some of our former competitors. For the family-oriented shooter though, I am confident we have built the best system in the world and it is only going to get better.
To those who are staying on for the ride, thank you.