Filepicker.io, the Y Combinator-backed “filesystem as a service,” is today rebranding itself as “Ink File Picker,” a name that, CEO Brett van Zuiden explains, stands for something much larger than the former, more product-focused title. In addition, the company is announcing a $1.8 million seed round of funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz and Highland Capital Partners.
Others in the round included SV Angel, Google board member Ram Shriram, Geoff Ralston (La La Media), Aaron Iba (Y Combinator), Pejman Nozad (Amidzad), Facebook VP of Business Development and Monetization Dan Rose, Ullas Naik (Streamlined Ventures), Hamid Barkhordar, Bobby Yazdani (Saba Software), Niall Browne (Workday), and Data Collective.
Founded just last year, Ink File Picker was created by four MIT grads, Anand Dass, Brett Van Zuiden, Liyan David Chang, and Thomas Georgiou, as a way to make cloud services interoperable. With tools for both web and, as of last summer, mobile developers, the company enables applications to connect to over a dozen of the most popular online services, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Box, GitHub, SkyDrive, Gmail, Instagram and more, as well as to the end user’s computer or device, and elsewhere.
Over the past year, Ink has seen increasing demand for its service, having hit 1 million files in November. Today, it sees just under 400 million files per month (over 10 million files per day). There are also 20,000 applications using the service from around 17,000 developers, including many well-known names like SurveyMonkey, Scribd, Livefyre, Fitocracy, Udacity, Haiku Deck, Crowdtilt, Urbanspoon, PlanGrid, RapGenius, Vidcaster, WeVideo, Funny or Die, TED, and others.
Van Zuiden says that the move to rebrand as “Ink” has to do with the company’s now larger vision, which is no longer just about a product that allows for uploading of files, but is instead more of a file management platform for developers. “It does everything from connecting to all the 19 sources we work with, doing the image processing, and the further operations people want to do on this content, storing this content, and serving as this whole layer that deals with all the different types of content work that you want to do,” he says.
For example, in the new cloud-based word processor called Draft, Ink lets the app’s users import their files from elsewhere on the web (like Dropbox), then as they’re writing and editing those files, the updated versions are saved back to the service where those files originated.
“It’s sort of this notion of ‘what does a file system for the web look like?,” explains van Zuiden. “What are those APIs, what is that capability?” Originally, the answer to that was a file picker toolset (as the earlier name implied). Today, it’s about “helping applications and services work together,” he says.
With the seed investment, which actually closed back in September, the company has grown its team from four to eight and plans to reach 15 by next year. It will also continue its product development, with a specific focus on investing more resources on mobile, which has its own set of challenges.
On mobile, release cycles are different from the web, screen sizes are smaller impacting the user interface design, plus versioning is an important area to address. Longer-term, the startup plans to focus on the international market as well, in terms of not only localization, but also the services popular in other regions worldwide, as determined by customer demand.
Today, Ink File Picker offers a freemium platform where pricing is based on the number of files handled per month. Under 5,000 files is free, and a Pro plan for $99/month offers up to 50,000 files per month. Enterprise customers have custom pricing available. Around 5 to 10 percent of Ink’s customer base is on a paid plan, van Zuiden estimates.