Photobucket responds to charge complaints
Denver-based Photobucket on Thursday said that a side business discovered by customers long ago is not sustainable as the company stuck with its new policy to charge $400 a year to those using Photobucket to host a large number of images.
“This path to a more sustainable business model allows us to develop an even more robust product to meet our customers’ needs,” Photobucket chief executive John Corpus said in a statement.
In late June, the company began charging $60 to $400 a year to customers who were using the site as essentially a hosting service. Users could store images on Photobucket and link to the images from message boards and other websites. The service had previously been free and supported by ads.
But 75 percent of Photobucket’s costs originated from “non-paying users leveraging 3rd party hosting,” Corpus added. And it resulted in “zero revenue.”
As a business, the company turned the service into a paid feature and offered 500 gigabytes of storage and unlimited bandwidth for $399.99 per year, which allowed for “unlimited image linking and third-party hosting.” The cheaper $60-a-year plan allowed for 52 GB of storage but no third-party hosting.
The problem for affected users was that their photos disappeared online. They were replaced with images that asked the user to unlock their account because “3rd Party Hosting has been temporarily disabled.”
Customers accused Photobucket of blackmail and being forced to pay a ransom. One user who wrote to The Denver Post said that he’s used Photobucket for nine years and posted 9,800 photos.
Photobucket said it let those users either subscribe to the new plan or migrate the photos off the site.
Photobucket, which started around 2003, became one of the nation’s largest photo-sharing sites in the early 2000s. Two years ago, the company said traffic to its site still hit about 60 million unique visitors per month. During its dotcom heyday, the company was acquired by News Corp.
After moving into mobile apps and home goods, the company made personnel changes and replaced long-time chief executive Tom Munro in January 2016. Corpus, who joined Photobucket after it acquired his own social video site Milyoni, became the new CEO. At the time, the company employed 53 people mostly in Denver.