Shutterfly Acquires ThisLife’s Photo Organization And Sharing Platform

Confirming TechCrunch’s earlier report, photo and personal publishing company Shutterfly is announcing this morning that it is acquiring the cloud-based photo and video organization platform ThisLife. The company will integrate ThisLife’s technology into its own core products, allowing users to upload, organize, store, share and create physical and digital products using both the web and mobile devices.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed at this time.

The service provided by ThisLife will make a good complement to Shutterfly’s other offerings. In one area, it could help improve the experience of pulling in more photos into Shutterfly’s online storage through photo uploading innovations. ThisLife allowed users to import photos from a variety of photo-sharing sites, including Flickr, SmugMug, Picasa, Twitter, and even Shutterfly itself, previously. The company also had desktop uploaders for Mac and Windows, which let users upload iPhoto galleries or other files and folders.

The uploading experience on Shutterfly was ripe for improvement. Although its own desktop uploader is able to move things fast, it’s unable today to connect with the many other places where users have photos stored. That’s a shame, because Shutterfly – as many don’t even realize – offers unlimited photo storage for free. That’s something that could be a competitive advantage over other services, like Flickr, for example, which requires users to pay for full access to their history of photos.

ThisLife’s user interface was also compelling, showing photos in a timeline format which scrolls by horizontally. You could share the photos from the timeline, and the company had developed other technology like facial recognition tools and algorithms that could identify the highest resolution photos. The interface and algorithms were of particular interest to Shutterfly, the company now reveals.

Shutterfly says that it will layer on ThisLife’s technology to enable “richer storytelling and easier product creation.” The timeline element will be a part of new products from Shutterfly, but there’s no ETA yet on when any of those may debut. Other updates to Shutterfly’s mobile platforms may follow as well, given that ThisLife had already built iPhone and iPad applications. Shutterfly tells us that product details will be revealed over the next couple of quarters. Also no word yet on when (or if) will shut down and/or transition users to Shutterfly’s new products.

TechCrunch’s Leena Rao reported on Thursday that Shutterfly was possibly interested in acquiring the ThisLife algorithm, and engineering and product teams. This is indeed the case – ThisLife’s eleven employees and two founders, the husband and wife team Andrea and Matt Johnson, will now join Shutterfly in its Redwood City offices.

ThisLife was founded in 2010, and had raised $2.75 million in funding led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Morado Ventures, Rogers Venture Partners, Animoto co-founder Brad Jefferson, Isilon co-founder Sujal Patel, and YouSendIt CEO Brad Garlinghouse.

Shutterfly has also recently acquired Photoccinoonline stationery company Tiny Prints and Penguin Digital to help it build out its end-to-end photo platform – one where creating digital and physical products will only be a part. And the company is moving fast, too. Penguin Digital’s technology was used to revamp Shutterfly’s iPhone app, which was released only a few months after the deal was announced.