RIP Snapjoy: The Dropbox-Acquired Photo Service Is Shutting Down

Snapjoy, the online photo storage service that Dropbox acquired in December, has some bad news today for its users: it is shutting down. The company noted the information in a blog post, as well as in an email it’s currently sending out to users (I am among them: I’m copying the text below).

Users have until July 24 to download their pictures and related data — at which point, they will all get deleted.

Yes, it’s often the case that when a big company makes an acquisition of a smaller one, the latter business gets shut down, either because the purchase was really an acqui-hire or because the bigger company is prepping for, well, something bigger with the fruits of that product. (Yahoo has become a very regular buyer and closer of startups, with many of those questions about where all that talent and product is going still unanswered.) But this is a somewhat surprising turn of events for Snapjoy: when Dropbox bought the company, it stopped taking new sign ups but it also committed to keeping the service open.

Given that decision to keep Snapjoy running, it looked like part of the reason for that acquisition was for Dropbox to start developing a photo service of its own, with Snapjoy as the anchor for it. (For those who are not familiar with Snapjoy, the Y-Combinator-backed company is/was a great platform that not only let users amalgamate pictures from several different photo libraries — great for people like me who have dabbled in using several, and have stored pictures in all of them — but it then had a wonderful feature that called up pictures from that bigger group in a kind of slideshow, to remind you of long-forgotten events. All of this was usable on both the web and via a mobile app.)

It may still end up being the case that Snapjoy’s technology will live to see another day, and that Dropbox will indeed launch a photo service — it seems like an obvious move for the company as it moves to do more than just offer cloud storage, by providing different services on top of that infrastructure. However, today’s news means that it won’t be a continuous process for Snapjoy’s existing users, or indeed for Snapjoy the product.

The news points to a couple of bigger issues:

For those who sometimes feel uneasy about cloud anything, this once again highlights that your cloud-stored data is only as solid as the proprietary platform that is storing it. Once that company decides to call it a day, that’s all, folks.

The other is regarding the message that this sends out to users of other Dropbox services — particularly those that Dropbox has acquired, like Mailbox. So far, Dropbox has shown no signs of planning to shut the virally-popular email service down, but Snapjoy should serve as a reminder that a picture can change in a snap.

We have reached out to Dropbox for comment and will update this post as we learn more.

Hi xxx,

After two years of building Snapjoy, the time has come for us to shut down the service. It’s been a journey unlike anything we’d imagined, and we can’t thank you enough for your support and input along the way.

As of today, June 22nd, no more photos can be imported into Snapjoy and the Snapjoy iPhone app will no longer be available. Your photos will be available to download until July 24th from the website. After July 24th, all photos and data will be permanently deleted.

To download your 450 photos, follow the steps below:
Visit from your computer.
Login using your Snapjoy account.
Download the zip files containing your 450 photos.
Thank you,

The Snapjoy team