Today is Fotolog's 5th birthday — a few words, and some images to mark the day. It has been an amazing five years for Fotolog. The history of the site is fairly straightforward. Fotolog was started in mid '02 by Scott Heiferman. Adam Seifer came on board soon after and took over the project and Scott focussed on building Meetup.
The vision of the service was to cater to new picture taking behavior — as people were starting to adopt digital cameras the use cases around the capture and processing of images was also evolving. Pictures have always been social – but the digital world was giving images a whole new social dimension. Fotolog was created as a social media network — the genesis was Photo Blogging, the result was a mixture of social networking and user created media sharing. This is what Scott's original Flog looked like:
The layout of Fotolog, was and is intentionally simple. Fotolog has resisted the temptation to add feature after feature — rather it has stuck to offering a handful of features, similar to Craig's list the focus has been on the content and the conversations. From the early days Scott and Adam had the vision that the pages on Fotolog needed to be social. They needed to include not only your images, but also images from across the network, providing a visual navigation that today drives much of the time our members spend on the site, a self formed, organic distribution system, letting members see and be seen. Complementing this social network of images they added comments and guest book entries — making the experience one where media intersects with communications, day in day out, millions of images collide with billions of conversations. The growth of Fotolog has been steady and consistent — but it took 2 years to gather real steam — as the chart below illustrates. In early 2005 we hit a million members — amazing to consider, since we are now adding close to a million a month.
The phenomena started in Brazil. Adam will tell you that in those early days he was concerned that Fotolog might get stuck in Brazil, Portuguese isn't a global language. But Brazilian's have turned out to be a strong early indicator of global internet phenomenas — from ICQ to Hotmail to Okrut to Fotolog, Brazilians seem to have a knack for early adoption of global social platforms. The Fotolog audience started skipping geographies and borders and today we sign up members from approximately 70 different countries everyday. Our audience is still very large in South and Central America and we have complemented that base with strong European growth. The primary language of Fotolog is images, beyond that the chatter around the site includes and mixes many different languages.
This is what the home page looked like when we hit a million members. Its not that different to what the home page looks like today — again, simplicity and consistency has mattered to the history of Fotolog.
Out of interest I checked how many of the 15 members with images above were still active on Fotolog. A quick check of member names and recent posts indicated that nine of them have updated Flogs in the past six months. Four of them have updated their Flog in the past 3 weeks — juju15 , lepadilha, tabata, mash — its amazing that after years members are still coming back and using Fotolog to share their world
Yesterday we had 673,150 uploads to the site — with our regime of one photo a day and 8.3M member accounts that means that yesterday a little over 8% of the people who have ever signed up to the site, uploaded a photo to Fotolog. That doesnt included all the members who just visited friends Flogs — but to have 8 percent of your membership coming back everyday is pretty engaging and pretty amazing. Fotolog also hit #18 on Alexa earlier this week — our highest ranking ever. The traffic on the site continues to surge — our reach continues to grow (see a ranking vs. facebook), and for people who want to relate us to other US photo sites (which I always say is a poor comparison, given that Fotolog is about self publishing and socializing and photo's just happen to be the medium, they aren't the end), see the relative traffic rankings over the past three years, vs. other photo sites, Photobucket is picking up share, Flickr seems to be flatlining, and Shutterfly is still a seasonal processing site. Fotolog is a testament to the creativity the internet has unleashed — millions of people sharing moments of their lives through images and conversations.
A thank you from the team in NY to all of the people and all of our members who have made this global collage of conversations possible.
And read Adam's Birthday post here .