Fotopedia Will Shut Down Its Apps And Website On August 10

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About six years ago, former Apple Application Division CTO Jean-Marie Hullot founded Fotopedia, a startup that in its early days tried to bring the coffee table book experience to the iPad (and later iPhone). It focused on travel-related apps and quickly gained traction with users and advertisers. By late 2012, the company had already served up over 3 billion image views, but since then, it had been rather quiet around Fotopedia.

Today, the company announced that it is closing up shop and that its iOS apps and website will go dark August 10. On that day, all the photos and data on the company’s servers will be deleted permanently.

fotopedia_spendia_2The company’s short and terse announcement notes that the Fotopedia team believes “in the concept of storytelling” but doesn’t think “there is a suitable business in it yet.”

Over Skype, Fotopedia CEO Jean-Marie Hullot told me today that while the product had great retention and passionate users, “there was one missing piece: where does the money come from?”

The company went from paid apps in its early days to an ad-based model, but while it had good traction with over 20 million downloads and great user engagement numbers, “it wasn’t becoming an Instagram or Twitter.” He also noted that while the company’s success was global, the advertising business is not and that hampered its efforts at monetizing its large but geographically diverse user base. This, combined with dropping advertising rates overall, seems to have doomed the company’s chance at success.

The company, which won the “best tablet app” category for the 2011 Crunchies, had launched over a dozen country-specific apps (or “magazines,” as the company liked to call them) over the years. About a year ago, it also launched Fotopedia Reporter, an app for curating Fotopedia’s images into personalized experiences around certain events or interests.

According to CrunchBase, Fotopedia had raised about $12.7 million since its founding, including a $5.3 million Series A round last July. Investors in the company include the likes of Ron Conway, SoftTech, Ignition Partners and Creative Commons founder and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito.

Hullot says he is going to take a break for now and then he’ll see what he’ll do next.