Zenfolio joins Art.com family as an independent division. All services remain the same.

vitasvitas Member, Administrator Posts: 1,364


On January 1, 2013 Zenfolio joined the Art.com family of companies. Art.com is the world's
largest online retailer of high-quality wall art.


There will be no changes in the way we provide services to you.
The great service you have come to expect from us will remain the same.


The Zenfolio business will operate as an independent division, and the
team will remain in place and continue to operate from our existing office.
The decision to join Art.com was based on sound business fundamentals
and joint synergies that would be realized by both companies.


The great service you have come to expect from us will remain the same.
In fact, we anticipate faster product development of new features due to the additional
resources available to us now.


This is an exciting time for all of us here at Zenfolio but we could never have
reached this point without you as a valuable customer. Remaining true to our roots is
important to us and that's why we look forward to releasing many new features for you this
year, starting later this month.


If you would like to read the official announcement,
please see the Art.com website website.
And, as always, if you have questions about your service, feel free to
contact us.

Comments

  • ZaqfalconZaqfalcon Member Posts: 25
    Will our art work become part of the catalogue searchable by potential customers at art.com?
    This would be great; Zenfolio has concentrated far too heavily on promoting themselves as a place for photographers to create their sites rather than a place for potential buyers to purchase artwork for the last few years (this wasn't always the case).
    Is there anything we should consider changing or including in our naming, categorisation or keyword regimes in order to facilitate this and align them with the art.com categories?
    Will we retain full control of our pricing?
    Will there be any changes to the commission rates charged by Zenfolio or Art.com?
    Cheers
    Zack
  • jimsyzfjimsyzf Member Posts: 13
    I'm always a little nervous when a company I work with merges or sells to another company. For now I'm staying in hopes this will be a positive change. 
  • vitasvitas Member, Administrator Posts: 1,364
    To reiterate the original point, let me say again that no changes to existing service are planned. No changes to pricing, commission, and so on.
    Yes, you retain full control over your pricing.
    At this point I cannot recommend making any changes to your websites, keywords, etc.
  • KamraGuyKamraGuy Member Posts: 46
     To say that "no changes to existing services are planned" is not to say that there will be no changes - just that they have not been planned yet.
     
  • vitasvitas Member, Administrator Posts: 1,364
    As you can see from the news release, Zenfolio will be operating as an inependent entity. Our team and our goals do not change. Our focus is to deliver the best platform for professional and aspiring photographers to present and sell their work online.
    Zenfolio is a solid and profitable business. We are planning to keep growing it indepenently by delivering innovative features and improving the service worldwide. At the same time, we will take advantages of the synergies resulting from the merger, which will further strengthen our position in the industry.
  • ZaqfalconZaqfalcon Member Posts: 25
     "Will our art work become part of the catalogue searchable by potential customers at art.com?"
  • vitasvitas Member, Administrator Posts: 1,364
    This is an interesting suggestion that will have to be discussed with Art.com. Please submit this idea to our uservoice site: http://zenfolio.uservoice.com.
     
  • Darren WardDarren Ward United KingdomMember Posts: 104
    When I got the e-mail about this last night I was worried because these acquisitions rarely work out well for customers and after reading up on Art.com this morning I'm more worried.
    There are lots of complaints about their service and the way in which their customer service people handle order problems.  Obviously the people talking about companies on the internet are usually only the ones who have had problems but the detail of the way the problems are handled ranges from very poor to completely unacceptable.  The order problems side of it isn't strictly related to Zenfolio, as we use other vendors, but it does give a flavour of the company that now owns Zenfolio.
    I encourage people to do their own reading on this and make their own assessment rather than relying on mine.
    There is also one extremely concerning report about the way Art.com integrates
    with other websites that they're linked to (but are presented as
    separate websites) which could be based on someone misunderstanding what
    they were agreeing to (i.e. their allegation may be false) but it's so worrying I'm going to
    have to do further research into it.  I'm struggling at the moment though because I can't find any kind of terms relating to listing stuff for sale.
    While there might not currently be any plans to change Zenfolio in any way companies don't buy other companies for fun.  The thing that really concerns me is that any changes might be made quietly behind the scenes to facilitate integration with Art.com's other sites and that, based on Zenfolio's history of making changes, we'll have to complain on the forums repeatedly until we're given an opt out option if we're given one at all.
    I think the only sensible reaction to this news for anyone selling images via Zenfolio is to look for an alternative way of running your site.  I can't see any reason to jump ship now but you may end up wanting to do so on short notice in the future and being prepared will ease the transition.
    What is Zenfolio's policy on informing users of changes to terms and
    conditions or the privacy policy by e-mail?  The terms just say it will be on the website/dashboard.

    "Zenfolio will provide 30 days notice for changes to
    billing terms, termination of Services, mergers, and acquisitions. Zenfolio
    will post that notice on the Website and provide a link to that notice on
    the home page of the Website and on the account dashboard at login."
    As a side note the Art.com one is disgusting, they say you have to read their terms every time you use their site to know if they've changed.
  • mrsroadrunnermrsroadrunner Member Posts: 9
    First thing congratulations zenfolio,
    Exactly how I feel Jimsyzf. Hope it is a good change for us....... I do hope we are updated on changes and future changes. Been through this stuff before at other places.
  • Paul MayPaul May Member Posts: 1
    I find it interesting that Zenfolios announcement said they have joined Art.com and Art.com says they have acquired Zenfolio. The two words have different connotations. I had no idea that Zenfolio was up for sale.
  • Darren WardDarren Ward United KingdomMember Posts: 104
    I think that's fairly standard Paul.  The bigger company normally says "look what we bought" while the smaller company says "look who we're teaming up with" because it's the best way to put it to people who're invested (as customers or otherwise) in either of the companies.
  • WirralpixWirralpix Member Posts: 9
    The first questions that came to my mind when I recieved the mail that Art.com had acquired Zenfolio is why?
    What is Art.com (a POD website) getting out of owning Zenfolio, a company providing websites for artists and photographers?
    What can Zenfolio users get out of a colaboration with Art.com?
    I guess we'll all find out in the coming months.
  • vitasvitas Member, Administrator Posts: 1,364
    Thank you for expressing your concerns. They are all valid and understandable. We've carefully evaluated all pro's and con's of the acquisition (or merger) and came to the conclusion that this is a good strategic move for the company.
    Art.com's business model is very different from Zenfolio. We provide photographers with websites and an e-commerce platform to run their businesses, while Art.com is a great source for purchasing wall art. Looking forward, we can definitely see opportunities to strengthen both companies by combining innovations in storage, buying experience, service infrastructure, development resources, international presence, and so on. 
    At the same time, Zenfolio will stay on its own path. Why? Because we are solving a real need, we've earned our reputation, we know how to run this business, and most importantly, we love what we do. As you know, most of us here, at Zenfolio, are photographers. We are not changing our fulfillment partners because they are great, we are not changing our terms of use, and we have a lot of features to add for making the service better with every iteration.
    In reference to the post above, Art.com is in fact happily saying "Look what we've bought!" because we've built a great service, we are proud of it, and we will keep running it.
  • pamkelsopamkelso Member Posts: 1
    I have had substantial problems in the past week downloading originals. Would this be related to moving work to new servers or will it be a function that won't be supported by Art.com?
    thanks, pam
  • vitasvitas Member, Administrator Posts: 1,364
    Pam, your issues have nothing to do with Art.com. Nothing is being moved to new servers. Art.com and Zenfolio are running two separate systems, so your originals are safely stored in our geo-distributed data centers. As I said before, nothing is changing for Zenfolio customers.
  • uanoexuanoex Member Posts: 40
    Hi Pam, what exactly were the problems with downloading originals? I had occasionally noticed an extremely sloooooooow download of originals, which I think I had posted here as a bug too, but received no answer, except of "all is fine on our end". If it´s the slowness problem, that has been around ever since I joined ZF two years ago.
  • lancehopsonlancehopson Member Posts: 8
    I'm not quite sure what to think about this yet since there have been little to no details released from Zenfolio -- which is something that in itself bothers me. Let's face it, Zenfolio (like a lot of other membership funded sites) has never been very good at all with communicating with it's customers/subscribers, nor about communicating new features deadlines, or even letting us know what new features they are actually working on. This buy-out by Art.com is no different. I as a customer didn't know it had happened until it was over (which seems like a TOS violation in itself since the TOS states Zen will give 30-days notice to "mergers, and acquisitions.") But what is done is done, even though my confidence in Zen management is even more shaken. Given Zen's history of poor communication I can't help but be VERY cautious to renew my membership next week. I find myself wondering what "surprises" I will be saddled with in the coming months.
    Will my site stay the same with no changes in appearance, but some select prints (of my choosing) can be made available on Art.com?
    Will my whole site be dismantled and reassembled in a way I don't appreciate at Art.com?
    Will Art.com impose their brand on my website (unappreciatively)?
    Will features, printing sizes or types, or print-houses change?
    Will Zen's/Art.com's changes follow in the footsteps of SmugMug's recent debacle and have their community (and revenue stream) railing against the machine?
    Or will this light a fire under Zenfolio development and we finally start seeing the features and innovation that the community has been asking for?
    Personally I think Zenfolio has the potential to be THE BEST creative artist content provider in the whole of the internet. However I don't think the management of the company (like so many others simply driven by monthly bottomlines) has the foresight and vision to take the company to that level -- at least for now. If they did we would have been seeing a massive amount of innovation instead of promises.
    That is what gives me SERIOUS pause and makes me wonder if I really should fork out the $250 bucks next week for my annual subscription. Yes I know businesses are in the business of making money, but is that going to be at my (and the other Zenfolio customer's) expense? Will I end up regretting the $250 spend 2 months from now because of changes Zenfolio management will not tell us now? So far I've heard nothing about what WILL change. And yes, things will change. Businesses do not just buy each other for the fun of it.
    What say you Zenfolio? Going to start being open with your user community (revenue stream) or should we expect the same tight-lipped service with "surprises" that we have come to expect?
     
  • vitasvitas Member, Administrator Posts: 1,364
    Let me address your concerns one at a time:
    You are in control of your site, and Art.com has no interest in changing its appearance or functionality. Nothing is being dismantled, reassembled, or changed.
    Art.com will not be imposing its brand on your site. As stated above, you are the owner of the site and our goal is to give you as much control over its appearance and functionality as possible. We are working on more customization features that will move us closer towards this goal.
    As before, you will have a choice whether to offer these products to your clients. We are not planning our fulfillment partners, print sizes, or products, except for addition of more products or services from our current partner labs. Yes, we may consider introducing some products from Art.com's catalog in the future, if it makes sense to do so.
    As I said before, we would not go for the acquisition if the goals of both were not in perfect alignment. Having access to additional resources will enable us to innovate faster, deliver more frequent releases, fulfilling feature requests, and growing our business. "Lighting the fire" is what we want just as much as you are.
    Having Zenfolio it its portfolio of companies allows Art.com to explore new avenues for delivering photographic art to consumers. At the same time, Art.com has absolutely no interest in changing the profitable, well-run, and quickly growing Zenfolio. Art.com is run by a very smart team Both companies want to serve more photographers worldwide and grow.
    As we said, Zenfolio will be operating as an independent division of Art.com, with the existing team in place, while adding more product development resources. We have nothing to hide, and we don't have any "surprises" planned except for new features.
    I completely understand your concerns. You are right that companies don't buy each other for no reason. I hope I was able to explain that reason. Our team believes in it, otherwise the merger would have never happened, as both companies are profitable and could have existed independently.
    You can safely renew your membership. We are committed to helping you run your photography business, as always. Hope this addresses your concerns. 
  • lancehopsonlancehopson Member Posts: 8
    Vitas,
    Thank you for your speedy response. I understand your, and Zenfolio's, intention, however as it remains you are now something akin to an owned subsidiary and how long will it be before Art.com starts asserting it's agenda? Also, if you will please check out the link you posted earlier, "http://zenfolio.uservoice.com/", in response to another customer... it is full of some 2338 (Two Thousand Three Hundred and Thirty Eight) suggestions for innovation and improvement and as far as I am aware maybe four or five of those have been addressed in the last 365 days. That's not what I would call the cutting edge and now that you have been acquired (or merged) by another company who is larger and by your own indirect admission more powerful and more wealthy... I find myself wondering just what are they going to do with Zenfolio?
    To be honest, I would welcome the chance to have additional products added to my products list and and additional printhouses that do not destroy the constitution and engage in censorship. MpixPro does a fantastic job of printing, however YOU are losing 2 additional revenue streams because of their stance on censorship. And from what I know of Art.com (bad service and support) coupled with Zenfolio's lack of innovation and communication -- something that I have been patient with since the UI and design are one of the best in the industry -- I hope you can understand my trepidation. If not, then maybe Zen is not the place for me after all.
    FYI... this is one of those times I wish Zen had a monthly billing instead of yearly. Just in case your merger turns south for the user environment (or at least this user) and I find it's best for me to bail out and invest in a web developer on my own.
    While I sincerely do appreciate your response, it is typical and elusive. You reference no specifics on what you hope to achieve, design and innovation plans, or what you plan to bring to the user base. I see only promises that this will be better. Well, your "Feature Suggestions" http://zenfolio.uservoice.com/ is full of promises and what could make Zenfolio better. I see dozens of "Planned", "Under Review", and "Started" tags that have been there for as long as I have been a member.
    Also, if Art.com has no designs or intentions upon Zenfolio, then why would they have invested so much money in buying/merging you? That makes no sense.
    You see, I am one of those "part-timer" photographers. That means I have a full-time job not photographing kids, landscapes, and whatnot because I have to. That also means I have the luxury of shooting anything I want and using photography as my creative outlet and not having to take any job that comes my way because I need the cash. What I am getting at is that my "full-time" job is a corporate job and we ARE in the business of acquiring companies whom we want a piece of and the rest does not interest us. So I wonder.... What piece of you did Art.com want? Why did you feel that you needed (or had to) get the cash infusion? What did Art.com offer that you could not do on your own? And most of all, what is this going to mean for me (because Art.com didn't fork out all that cash for no reason)?
    If my questions seem pointed or make you uncomfortable I apologize. I just don't appreciate getting the email of "Hey, guess what... we sold ourselves to someone else and you are not our customer anymore," with no warning or communication to the customer.
    I guess I will just have to wait and see and decide by the end of the week if Zen will still be the place for me. For now it's a roll of the dice since I still can't get any specifics from Zen on what this means, where you plan to go and what innovations you project in the next 3 or 6 months (which we never get anyway). Your subscribers are looking for answers other than "Nothing will change." We are looking for development plans, release dates, what (if any) features we will loose and what we will gain. Not obscurity.
    If this seems harsh, I challenge you to accept these unknowns and non-answers and delays from your own ISP, storage provider, developer staff, server administrators, marketing team or even the guy who keeps up your car maintenance. I have a feeling the words out of your mouth would be something like, "Your ass is fired."
    Lance
  • vitasvitas Member, Administrator Posts: 1,364
    Let's talk about feature suggestions. This is one of the most important inputs for prioritizing our work. Other variables include competitive pressures, required infrastructure work, technology changes, requirements from our partners, and innovation. Typically, we try to tackle big features that make a difference for most users. There are lot of requests on Uservoice that are in reality support questions, or one-off requests that we try to address as time allows. 
    Let's review 2012. In 2012 we added photo blogs, which was one of the most requested features on Uservoice. We added support for mobile websites, which was driven not only by UserVoice, but also by rapid shift to mobile browsing. We added multi-user accounts, which was another big request and a serious technological investment for us. I know it is not on the top of the list for customers in the US, but we've added fulfillment labs in Australia. I'm sure you see the big picture of making this investment. We've added numerous other enhancements across the entire service offering: from digital products, to more products from our labs, to bug fixes, to adding ivoke lab, more SEO options, etc, etc. The full list is here. If you fee like it, please take a look at previous years as well, while at it.
    It also worth mentioning that we are always making investments in our systems to make sure that you can run your business smoothly, without interruptions. In short - we are known for doing quality work, not just slapping things together quickly and calling it innovation.
    You are right, we are not publishing specific and detailed development plans or dates. There are two reasons for it. We don't want to reveal too much to competition, as we've been burnt there before. The second one is that we don't want to make promises that we cannot keep. If you monitor Uservoice, you can still put together a very clear picture of what we are working on. So, for the next year, we will definitely improve layouts, customizations, and website building and management in general. We will address shortcomings in existing features. We will keep working on mobile experiences. We will keep adding more advanced e-commerce features. We will introduce selling of video files. We will add more products. We will work on localization. And much much more. 
    To answer your question what does Art.com gain from the acquisition. Technological innovations in the area of running a large-scale service, storage, serving of images, and global selling. Revenues. New ways of delivering art to consumers. Some of the things they've gained are yet to be realized. 
    I don't have anything to say about censorship at this point. This issue has not been brought up to our attention often. 
    Zenfolio is run by a team of seasoned professionals who have been through acquisitions before. We made this decision in the best interest of our company and our customers. To convince you further, we've provisioned certain legal terms in the merger agreement that will enable us to keep doing what we do best - running Zenfolio.
     
     
     
  • Joe ReynoldsJoe Reynolds Member Posts: 2
     Hi Vitas. Couple of quick thoughts regarding feature suggestions.
    1. Provide a way to mark individual images as a new uploads, perhaps in addition to the current recent uploads. This could be done, I suppose, by using Lightroom to maintain a new images gallery but having the feature built-in to the Zen admin area would be better.
    2. The mobile view allows no way to return to mobile view if user click on the link at bottom to show entire site. This is a problem in that if a mobile user clicks to view full site the only way to return to mobile view (on an iPhone anyway) is to delete all cookies. Few if any users will do that.
    Joe Reynolds
  • CmelyCmely Member Posts: 70
    [quote user="Vitas [Zenfolio]"]So, for the next year, we will definitely improve layouts, customizations, and website building and management in general. We will address shortcomings in existing features. We will keep working on mobile experiences. We will keep adding more advanced e-commerce features. We will introduce selling of video files. We will add more products. We will work on localization. And much much more. [/quote]
    You don't need to ! Just what you said in this sentence will be great !! [:D]
    [quote user="Vitas [Zenfolio]"]we are known for doing quality work[/quote]
    I must say that I really think you (Zenfolio) desserve this reputation. Each time I'm refering Zenfolio to other photographers this is what I say the most often : "They do a high quality job. Everything (or almost everything) have been extensively refined".
    It's obvious that quality was in Zenfolio's mind when you built it.
     

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