Skift Take

The rise of the visual web means the rise of photo startups, many which are glorified features posing as full-fledged companies. Micro innovations become the flavor of the month, and new startups follow as VC money (mostly early stage angel and seed) keeps pouring in.

Updated below: The rise of the visual web, from the Instagram phenomena to the Pinterest-ization of everything means, users are increasingly using photos and visuals as a means of expression for everything. Including travel, of course.

With it comes the photo startups — hundreds and hundreds of them every year. Every month brings a new wave in this sector. Earlier this year it was SnapChat and the impermanence phenomena, and now everyone’s talking about the Frontback app. The big seminal moment for the sector came with Instagram’s $1 billion acquisition by Facebook last year.

Every new photo feature launch by Facebook/Google/Apple/GiantInternetCompany means a new media death sentence written out for these startups. And yet, the numbers keep building up, every day, every month.

We decided to get a handle on the number of photo startups that get launched. A basic check of AngelList — the default repository of all new startups being hatched – show an increasing volume in the “Photography” section. The photo sharing and photo editing startups form part of this larger sector on the site. See the table below.

August, a traditionally slow month for startup launches, saw a record month this year, with 50 new photo startups listed on AngelList, the highest ever. A total of 319 photo startups were listed on the site over 2013 so far, easily eclipsing 296 listed in all of 2012.

At this rate, we could easily cross 500 for the year, and maybe even more, if new startups decide to take advantage of the new camera features of the newly launched iPhone 5s.

Keep in mind these are just the startups that choose to list on AngelList, a likely larger amount around the globe, especially outside the Western Hemisphere, aren’t even listed on there.


Updated: According to data from startup research firm CBInsights, the amount of venture capital being pumped into the sector is also increasing: about $192 million was invested across 67 deals in the photo sector, ranging from photo marketplaces to image commerce platforms to photo editing tools. Between 2008 and 2011, investments to the mobile photo category totaled $134 million, and since then, total funding to the space has hit over $460 million. The chart on the right the table highlights the accelerating rate of funding to mobile-oriented photo startups.

Number of photo startups listed on AngelList, by month:

Month/Year Number of New Photo Startups Listed on AngelList
Jan 2012 20
Feb 2012 11
March 2012 40
Apr 2012 (Instagram gets bought by Facebook for $1 billion) 33
May 2012 22
June 2012 24
July 2012 24
August 2012 23
Sep 2012 28
Oct 2012 24
Nov 2012 21
Dec 2012 26
Jan 2013 27
Feb 2013 47
March 2013 36
Apr 2013 21
May 2013 33
June 2013 47
July 2013 47
August 2013 50
Sep 2013, so far 11



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Tags: apps, photos, smartphones

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