Fotomoto, we’re breaking up

September 17, 2013 Update

Having realized that a lot of people are still coming to this article from searches, I wanted to run a quick update on our relationship with Fotomoto:

We're back together!

I'm happy to say that Fotomoto announced that they're now part of Bay Photo, and their service has been restored! Some of the original team is back on board as well, and my contacts at Fotomoto have assured me that it's back to "business as usual".

I've already re-enabled support for Fotomoto in CE3 Gallery, so it's safe to use Fotomoto on your sites again.

If you've got any questions about the Fotomoto situation, feel free to contact their support team at
http://support.fotomoto.com/customer/portal/emails/new

Our original post from June 11 appears below in full.


Good people make good business.

When I first contacted them in 2009, Fotomoto was a promising, young startup company. They were good people with good ideas, designing an amazing service for photographers. We quickly struck an accord and formed a partnership. Fotomoto has been a part of TTG image galleries ever since, and our early work together helped to shape the API that many other third-parties would come to rely on for Fotomoto integration.

Over the years, Fotomoto continued to improve its services, backing them up with passion, commitment and excellent support.

In February this year, Fotomoto was purchased by liveBooks. Some of you are already familiar with my low opinion of liveBooks as a company and as a product, so it should not surprise you that news of the purchase set me at unease. I reached out to my contacts at Fotomoto, however, and they assured me they were still with the company and would stay the course. They sounded optimistic about the acquisition, and all appeared to be well, so I set my unease aside.

Fast-forward to present ...

Earlier this month, the Fotomoto website went offline for most of a week. To my knowledge, liveBooks acknowledged the outage not at all: not on the blog, nor on Twitter, Facebook, the support forum ... total silence on all fronts. I reached out to my contacts within Fotomoto, great fellows every one. The former CEO Ahmad Kiarostami was quick to respond, as usual. Unfortunately, his response only restored my unease over the liveBooks acquisition: the original Fotomoto team is no longer with liveBooks. Insofar as he is aware, there is no longer a support team at liveBooks to answer messages about Fotomoto.

About the current situation he said, "This is really frustrating and painful, and I really wish I could do something about it, but as you know Fotomoto is owned by liveBooks now, and there's nothing I can do."

There is more, but I do not feel comfortable sharing everything I have been told in confidence. Suffice to say, I do not feel good about what I know.

I have attempted to contact liveBooks CEO Andy Patricks directly for clarification of the situation, wanting to make an informed decision on how or whether to proceed with Fotomoto support for The Turning Gate and TTG customers. Also to inquire after unclaimed affiliate commissions which I am owed in the amount of $868.37. Andy Patricks has not replied to my messages.

As of today, the situation continues to devolve. Parts of the Fotomoto website are back online, but the site is broken; many pages and much dashboard functionality remain unavailable. The liveBooks website has been redesigned within the last 24 hours, removing all mention of the Fotomoto brand. I have been in conversations with other Fotomoto members, equally frustrated and some reporting recent orders having gone unfulfilled and unrefunded. And of course, liveBooks has maintained total silence on the matter. At this point, I think it's clear what needs to be done ...

Good people make good business.

Fotomoto was an excellent company full of good people, offering brilliant service to photographers. Thus far, liveBooks has proven itself to be a poor steward for the Fotomoto brand. Their apparent mismanagement of the brand, and their total lack of transparency regarding this situation and their intent for the brand only shows how little respect they have for their customers and partners. With a heavy heart, I have decided that a continued partnership between The Turning Gate and a liveBooks-operated Fotomoto is untenable. For all I know, Fotomoto may cease to exist tomorrow.

Going forward, Fotomoto support will be dropped from TTG plugins, beginning with the next update to TTG CE3 Gallery. Those of you currently running Fotomoto-enabled image galleries, I strongly advise that you remove or replace those galleries immediately. If you're managing those galleries with CE3 Publisher, then you should only need to replace the gallery template; if not using CE3 Publisher, then it's going to be a larger job.

This is an unfortunate situation, and I can only apologize to those TTG users who have come to rely on our Fotomoto implementation. I wish I might have taken action sooner, but this situation has come without warning and has rapidly escalated to disastrous proportions. I think Ahmad said it best: "... Fotomoto is owned by liveBooks now, and there's nothing I can do."


Update, 2013.06.12 9:00 p.m.

Response to the above has been overwhelmingly supportive, for which I thank you all. I sincerely appreciate all of your understanding.

But I have also received several messages with questions -- variations on the same basic questions -- and so I felt it might be a good idea to offer clarification on a few points ...

"What's Fotomoto? I don't understand how this affects me."

Fotomoto is an e-commerce platform for selling images, and has been an optional feature in TTG plugins since 2009.

Were you using Fotomoto, then you would have signed up for the service and setup your galleries to interface with your Fotomoto.com account. These steps would have been very deliberate on your part.

Galleries not setup to use Fotomoto contain absolutely nothing related to it.

So if you were using Fotomoto to sell images from your galleries, you would know it. If you have not been using Fotomoto's features in your galleries, then you need not worry, and need take no further action.

"I'm using Fotomoto in my galleries. How urgent is this?"

Very urgent, I think. Fotomoto has been broken in the most insidious way that I can imagine:

To the visitor, the gallery and sales interface appear to be in perfectly working order. Purchase buttons continue to function, the Fotomoto widget allows items to be configured and ordered, and the system accepts and processes payments for orders.

From what I have heard from other Fotomoto users, however, that's where functionality stops. Orders are not being processed on the back end, and are not being sent to printers for production. The Fotomoto system is accepting clients' payments, but failing to deliver the ordered products.

I cannot verify the situation either way at this point, but if these reports are true, then this is a potentially disastrous situation for photographers running Fotomoto-enabled galleries. Erring on the side of caution, I therefore advise that taking your Fotomoto galleries offline be made a **very high priority**.


Update, 2013.06.13 01:49 a.m.

Someone in the Fotomoto forums suggested something I hadn't thought of for disabling your Fotomoto galleries. Log into your Fotomoto account, and you should be able to kill all sales functionality by turning everything off in the dashboard. Of course, this assumes you're able to access your dashboard ... in my experience, and what I've heard from others is that dashboard access has been flakey these last few days. Still, worth a try. If it works, then it's going to be the easiest way to ensure people aren't attempting to order images until you're able to remove or replace your existing galleries.


45 Responses to “Fotomoto, we’re breaking up”

  1. That’s unfortunate, although I see this type of situation all too often. I wonder if it is inevitable when a company gives up control? Anyway, a company that provides a similar service (superior service in my opinion) is eMotion Media. Their selections are much more diverse and they are very dependable.

    · June 11, 2013 @ 11:09 pm

    • Matt says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Brian. I will look into them to see whether they sound like a viable alternative for integration.

      · June 12, 2013 @ 12:03 am

    • Matt says:

      Brian, do you have a link for the service. The only thing I’m finding via Google search is Emotion Media in Oklahoma, who are not even remotely similar to a Fotomoto-type service.

      · June 12, 2013 @ 12:14 am

      • Sorry, I had Fotomoto confused with Animoto, which is a slideshow service for photographers. My mistake!

        · June 12, 2013 @ 9:58 am

  2. Joe says:

    Dang, that sucks. JUST got my CE3 stuff and was going to use the FotoMoto until CE3 Cart is up and running. Oh well, thanks for the heads up! (Nudge nudge) Any idea when the CE3 Cart will be available (wink wink)?

    · June 12, 2013 @ 12:09 am

    • Matt says:

      We’re still aiming for a summertime release for CE3 Cart. Ben has been plugging away at it.

      · June 12, 2013 @ 1:16 am

      • Joe says:

        Awesome, I will be patiently awaiting! And again, thanks for the heads up on this.

        · June 12, 2013 @ 2:17 am

  3. Lofty says:

    Sorry to hear the problems with FotoMoto, it’s always tough when you build business relationships that you invest a lot of yourself. I was not a FotoMoto user, however in Europe the company rapidly winning favour, awards etc. as the go to online Lab for Photographers is http://www.whitewall.com.

    I’m sure a lot of us poms would be very happy if you could do some integration with them.

    Still, you need a bit more work to do, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

    · June 12, 2013 @ 1:12 am

    • loupiote says:

      It does not seem that whitewall provide any way to integrated a cart in a website.

      you need to upload each photos on their site, by hand.

      · June 12, 2013 @ 5:07 am

    • Kris says:

      And their delivery charges for anything more than a print will have you reaching for the sick bag.

      · June 13, 2013 @ 8:35 am

  4. Mark Hoffman says:

    Good! They were getting difficult to deal with anyway. Thanks to the wonder of TTG publisher it only took me 30 minutes to change my publishing templates and put them on my server, thus magically changing all the galleries and removing Fotomoto from them. Hoorah Matt, and crew! I bet this means that TTG CE3 Cart must be close at hand???
    Mark

    · June 12, 2013 @ 1:16 am

    • Matt says:

      CE3 Cart is still a work-in-progress, but Ben is making good progress. We’re still targeting a summertime release.

      · June 12, 2013 @ 2:27 am

  5. Andy Ogden says:

    Hi Matt

    I’ve currently got a subscription with http://www.zenfolio.com who provide a very similar service to what I remember of Fotomoto when I checked it. I’ve never had a problem with their service and their support has always been pretty spot on.

    I won’t be renewing my paid subscription as I’ll be using CE3 cart once it’s available.

    My only complaint isn’t really their fault, and that is that the printing companies they use have special offers on canvases and such which aren’t available through the Zenfolio service. It’s caused me to bypass their ordering system a few times to take advantage of the offers.

    Cheers
    Andy

    · June 12, 2013 @ 2:46 am

    • Matt says:

      My understanding of Zenfolio’s services is that you need to upload images for display on the Zenfolio website, and that purchasing cannot be integrated into local galleries on an existing website. That was what made Fotomoto standout as an option for our plugins.

      Is this still the case with Zenfolio’s services?

      · June 12, 2013 @ 2:48 am

      • Andy Ogden says:

        Using the standard service you would need to upload photos to their website and order from those, but I though that’s how the Fotomoto service worked under normal circumstances. That might be where I’m going wrong here?

        I assumed that in order for Fotomoto to order a print, you would upload the photo to them via an API. Zenfolio also has an API and I made an assumption you could do the same sort of thing

        · June 12, 2013 @ 6:02 am

        • loupiote says:

          > I assumed that in order for Fotomoto to order a print, you would upload the photo to them via an API. Zenfolio also has an API and I made an assumption you could do the same sort of thing

          no. with fotomoto, the process could be completely automated, with fotomoto fetching the hi-res image automatically from a place you indicate. it was called auto-pickup. and it was well designed system. the hi-res images were just uploaded by fotomoto on demand, i.e. when an order was placed for that particular photo, and that was completely automated, no human intervention needed (if you had set-up auto-pickup).

          · June 12, 2013 @ 6:20 am

  6. loupiote says:

    @Andy Ogden

    Zenfolio is a photo / gallery hosting service, just like Smugmug, 500px and Flickr. Fotomoto it completely different: it allows you to sell and license images directly from your own website or blog.

    · June 12, 2013 @ 4:57 am

  7. Will the demise of Fotomoto give rise to accelerated completion of CE3 Cart? Will it be able to interface to credit credit payment processors like Stripe? I need a viable e-commerce functionality when i get my TTG site up and running.

    I am glad I have held off on attempting to get my site all up and complete and running with TTG Bundle as i found it a bit more time daunting and time consuming fiddling with details than I expected. Not a complaint, I just have had a hard time getting the Big picture issue of exact configuration workflow thru the tutorials to accomplish my particular needs with TTG. I am no Web Jockey either.

    I have opted out in the interim for expediency sake to get some events I recently shot online for sale ASAP by taking advantage of a Photoshelter 30 day free trial of their Pro Package. It doesnt offer the total customization (fiddling) that I know I can achieve with TTG, nor as pretty as what I envision, but immediacy was the order of the day and its online and functioning (almost I have an unresolved CNAME issue…operator error no doubt) after 24 hours of fiddling and uploading.

    My long term solution will be TTG, but I am glad I didn’t get as far as setting up the Fotomoto side of things yet.

    Will CE3 Cart be my e-commerce savior? Will the Bundle purchasers get a special price on Cart? When do you expect completion?

    Thank you so much for attention to the things that matter to us!
    John

    · June 12, 2013 @ 9:05 am

    • Matt says:

      We are still targeting a summer release for CE3 Cart. This fiasco with Fotomoto does not free up any time for us, so doesn’t really have an impact on our timeframe for delivery; it just makes the wait a bit more difficult to bear.

      As with previous versions of our cart, PayPal checkout will be supported as an option for making online payments. The other option will be to allow the cart to checkout without payment, so that the photographer may collect in their own way.

      Stripe might be an option for us to explore for a future update, but if you want this thing delivered sooner rather than later, then probably not something we’re going to look into for launch.

      The cart will be separate from the bundle.

      · June 12, 2013 @ 11:04 am

  8. Matt says:

    Added this update to the post above, but for those of you skipping over the post updates to read comments, here it is again:

    Update, 2013.06.13 01:49 a.m.

    Someone in the Fotomoto forums suggested something I hadn’t thought of for disabling your Fotomoto galleries. Log into your Fotomoto account, and you should be able to kill all sales functionality by turning everything off in the dashboard. Of course, this assumes you’re able to access your dashboard … in my experience, and what I’ve heard from others is that dashboard access has been flakey these last few days. Still, worth a try. If it works, then it’s going to be the easiest way to ensure people aren’t attempting to order images until you’re able to remove or replace your existing galleries.

    · June 12, 2013 @ 11:52 am

  9. Jon says:

    Matt,
    Thanks for the update. I am not sure if you are aware but your site still appears on the fotomoto home page. You are included in their staff’s “favorite sites”.
    Here is the link:
    http://www.fotomoto.com/home/members

    · June 12, 2013 @ 6:55 pm

    • Matt says:

      Yep, I know. And I was happy to be there until this week when all of this happened. If anyone at liveBooks were actually answering my messages, I would ask them to remove it.

      · June 12, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

    • loupiote says:

      maybe livebooks (conveniently) lost the passwords to edit / manage the fotomoto site? ๐Ÿ™‚

      · June 12, 2013 @ 11:40 pm

  10. Christian says:

    Although I didn’t have Fotomoto activated, I’m building up portfolios to offer for sale. I have now been looking for alternatives, and I am only finding lots of ‘portfolio sites’ that tend to have far more limited print options.
    The one exception is http://www.peecho.com/ which will also let you place a print or buy button on your site. Unfortunately they are mainly aimed at book printing, and have limited photo options, but they are worth watching.

    · June 13, 2013 @ 12:51 am

    • Matt says:

      Interesting. If they’d get into photo printing, they could be one to watch. Thanks, Christian.

      · June 13, 2013 @ 1:31 am

    • loupiote says:

      yeah, but do they have something equivalent to auto-pickup?

      if not, then it’s useless to me (since i have 12,000 photos and i can’t possibly manually upload all of them upfront to another site).

      · June 13, 2013 @ 1:33 am

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for the tip! They seem to offer everything but C-Prints or Giclรฉe prints. Although they do offer acrylic, canvas, aluminum and posters.

      · June 13, 2013 @ 11:36 am

  11. Ales says:

    I started using https://gumroad.com It’s not only for photographers and you have to handle your own printing but it’s so easy to set up and use.

    · June 13, 2013 @ 9:05 am

    • Matt says:

      My understanding of gumroad is that it’s only for the sale of digital products, that you would need to manually setup each individual image as its own product, and that you would need to upload every image one-by-one whether it sells or not. That’s not a viable solution.

      · June 13, 2013 @ 9:12 am

  12. Dave says:

    I hope this will get more resources working on CE3 Cart. It is frustrating not being able to implement CE3 galleries and pages until CE3 Cart is released. Waiting for a new cart is holding everything back for me.

    · June 14, 2013 @ 10:01 am

    • Matt says:

      We’re working very hard to clone our Ben.

      · June 14, 2013 @ 10:31 am

      • Dave says:

        ๐Ÿ™‚

        · June 16, 2013 @ 10:09 am

  13. Tom Kenny says:

    My friend pointed me to The Printers Inc, http://www.theprintersinc.co.uk... They are similar and work with my facebook and twitter too. I think its only the EU now but they said they are expanding soon.

    · June 16, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

  14. I am very concerned about the Fotomoto situation. I became familiar with them through Capture Minnesota, a website in Minnesota helping photographers.

    Since I am running a full-fledged business, I was very excited to learn about the services Fotomoto offered to photographers through the Capture Minnesota website. So, two years ago when I joined Capture Minnesota, I ran with things. I set up links and advertised in Twitter and Facebook about Fotomoto and the awesome services they could provide for the interior designers following me on Twitter.

    Then, just last week, I received an email from Capture Minnesota stating that Fotomoto was acquired by another company and they had no further information. I’m not certain if they are working on finding another printing/framing/drop-shipping company like Fotomoto or not.

    I’m so concerned now because I have around 60 interior designers following me on Twitter. Now, I have no way of providing printing and framing services for them!

    I was wondering what company you have decided to go with to replace Fotomoto’s services.

    I have no idea what to do!

    Thanks,

    Gloria Gunderson
    Owner, Quiet Waters Photography
    http://www.quietwatersphotography.com
    quietwatersphotography@frontier.com

    ***************************************

    Here’s the message I received from Capture Minnesota. It seems like they are in the dark about things as well. And, they even mentioned that despite Fotomoto services no longer being available…people are still getting billed and payments deducted automatically from checking accounts!

    Dear Gloria,

    We wanted to get in touch with you about the current status of our photo store feature on Capture Minnesota because you are one of our members that has been using it. Due to circumstances outside of our control, the Fotomoto service has gone offline, and we are waiting to learn more.

    We don’t know much, but this is what we do know: Fotomoto was acquired sometime last year, and that parent company has now been bought by another company. We also know that Fotomoto’s services have gone offline during this process. Unfortunately, we don’t know the fate of Fotomoto and its staff, and because of this we don’t know what this will mean for our partnership with Fotomoto in the future. In the mean time, however, we have disabled the photo store feature.

    If you were a member of Fotomoto’s free service tier, there isn’t anything you need to do. We simply wanted you to be aware of the situation and that the store is currently down.

    If you had decided to become a Pro or Pro Plus paying member when they changed their service levels last year and are still being billed while their services are down, you may want to get in touch with your credit or debit card company to determine an appropriate course of action.

    We’re sorry for the inconvenience, and we hope to know more about the future of the photo store on Capture Minnesota soon.

    · July 17, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

    • Matt says:

      My latest information is that Fotomoto has been picked up by another company — a better company — and they’re now working with some of the original team members to bring the service back online. I know who, but I don’t know when, though we’re hoping to see things running again within a week’s time. I am waiting until the new stewards are ready to make some official announcement before I divulge further information. But if all goes to plan, Fotomoto should be resuming service soon.

      · July 17, 2013 @ 11:35 pm

      • Thank you so much for the information! It is a relief to hear this. However, my trust in them even if they do go back online has waivered tremendously.

        How much do you trust things if they do get up and running again?

        I have sent an email to Capture Minnesota with the information you’ve provided me. I’m not sure what they are going to do. If they find another vendor, I’ll of course be going with them.

        I appreciate you getting back to me about this so quickly. Thanks again!

        · July 17, 2013 @ 11:48 pm

        • Matt says:

          The cause of the recent problems was liveBooks, who acquired Fotomoto in February. liveBooks, Inc. has for some time been in a state of financial ruin, and roundabout May put nearly all of its employees on “immediate leave without pay”, including the Fotomoto team. That’s when problems began to show through liveBooks’ typically opaque curtains. A week or two ago liveBooks was purchased by WeddingWire, probably at a steal, so they remain in operation (though I can’t think of any good reason why they should at this point). Fotomoto was not a part of that acquisition.

          Instead, Fotomoto has been picked up by a separate company. A company both good and familiar, and I hesitate to name them only because they have not yet made any announcements themselves. They have been working closely with members of the original Fotomoto team in the process of acquiring rights to the service and the required assets from liveBooks, and now have several members of the original team helping them to restore the service.

          So as to the question of trust, I will never, ever trust any service being operated by liveBooks. But Fotomoto is no longer owned by liveBooks, and I have every confidence that it’s back in good hands. As soon as the system it restored to normal, I plan to reintegrate Fotomoto services into my gallery plugins.

          If you’d like to put someone from Capture Minnesota in contact with me, I’ll work to put them in touch with Fotomoto’s new stewards. They are aware of the damage that liveBooks has done to the Fotomoto brand, and I’m sure they would be happy to discuss the resumption of service with them.

          · July 18, 2013 @ 12:20 am

          • Thank you so much, Matt, for your excellent up-to-date information regarding Fotomoto.

            I have forwarded your above reply to Bryan Corey at Capture Minnesota. He mentioned that he had replied to you so that you could get in touch with him directly. So, you are probably aware of his desire to talk to you already.

            Thanks again for your diligence regarding this situation.

            Gloria Gunderson
            Owner, Quiet Waters Photography

            ***********************************************
            Following is the email that he sent to me.

            From: Bryan Corey
            To: quietwatersphotography
            Sent: Thursday, July 18, 2013 12:19 PM
            Subject: Re: An Update On Our Photo Store

            Gloria,

            Thanks so much for this. I read Matt’s post and commented so that he can get in touch with my directly with more information. We would love to not switch sales partners if we don’t have to and have no reason not to trust the original Fotomoto team at this time, so we are hopeful that things can be worked out and back online as soon as Fotomoto is able.

            Bryan

            · July 22, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

  15. Matt,

    In case you haven’t seen Capture Minnesota’s Bryan Corey’s response to you, following is his direct email address:

    Bryan Corey

    Thanks again,

    Gloria Gunderson
    Owner, Quiet Waters Photography

    · July 22, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

    • I copied Bryan Corey’s email address into my last reply directly from his email to me, but his address wasn’t showing up within my reply above for some reason.

      Bryan Corey
      Capture Minnesota
      [email removed by admin]

      · July 22, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

      • Matt says:

        Bryan and I have been in touch. Thanks, Gloria.

        · July 22, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

  16. Andria Morse says:

    Thank you, Matt, for your updates on this Fotomoto. Does anyone have any immediate solutions of a platform I can use to temporarily sell my photos online until Fotomoto gets up an running again? I have one customer waiting to purchase photos and the wait is getting a little too long. Any suggestions?

    Thank you!

    · July 23, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

    • Matt says:

      Fotomoto should be up and running again very soon.

      · July 23, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

  17. Bruno says:

    They’re back! Now owned by Bayphoto (love that lab)!

    https://getsatisfaction.com/fotomoto/topics/were_baaack

    · July 26, 2013 @ 5:28 am

Comments are now closed.


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