SAUSALITO, Calif., - liveBooks, Inc., a photo-rich content management platform focused on sharing and distributing across the web, mobile and print-on-demand channels, today announced the acquisition of on-demand photo companies Pinhole Press and Pinhole Pro. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. The acquisition expands liveBooks' market opportunity with a differentiated, premium-quality offering targeted at the on-demand photo gift industry, which is estimated to reach $2 billion by 2014 according to InfoTrends.
"liveBooks and Pinhole are united by a shared vision of elegant design, superior product quality and simplicity of use," said liveBooks President and CEO Andy Patrick. "Joining forces with Pinhole enables us to create an e-commerce platform that expands our existing relationships with more than 25,000 professional photographers by enabling them to further enhance their online presence and leverage their offline brand through photo books, calendars, cards and other unique, high-quality personalized products."
Both Pinhole Press, a lifestyle brand aimed at consumers, and Pinhole Pro, which targets the professional photographer market, provide an unmatched user experience with timeless, elegant e-commerce products utilizing top of the line paper from Mohawk, the largest privately-owned fine paper manufacturer in North America. Mohawk, which is located in Albany, New York, incubated Pinhole.
"The success of Pinhole Press and Pinhole Pro proves that professionals and consumers care about design and high quality papers like Mohawk Superfine. These beautiful products paired with liveBooks' web technology will produce an exciting brand like nothing else in the market today," said Mohawk CEO Tom O'Connor.
"We have a robust product roadmap and are very excited about our combined potential to capitalize on the growing trend toward personalization and tap this tremendous market opportunity," added Patrick. "Not only will the thousands of wedding photographers currently using liveBooks now have a deeply integrated suite of high-quality, sophisticated design merchandise to offer their customers, but we see rapid expansion into additional design-oriented categories as well."
Many of the best known photographers in the world have chosen liveBooks to propel their businesses. "liveBooks has been a fantastic partner that has helped me grow my business and enhance my brand," said iconic commercial photographer Chase Jarvis. "Pinhole is a tremendous addition for entrepreneurial photographers who want to offer customers the highest quality printed materials that exemplify the beauty of their work."
Commentary by Cary Sherburne
WhatTheyThink Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Mohawk CEO Tom O'Connor about this transaction. There had already been a relationship between liveBooks and Mohawk dating back to 2009 when Mohawk made a strategic investment in Andy Patrick's Silicon Valley based company (Sausalito, to the North of Silicon Valley, actually, but a beautiful place to be!). And Patrick has served on Mohawk's board for the past couple years. O'Connor said, "Pinhole Press wasn't originally intended to be an incubated company, but as our brand grew, and when we added Pinhole Pro in 2011 focused on professional photographers, we started talking about the fact that Pinhole, and some software we had developed that would complement Andy's offerings, might be a better fit for his company and give the company an opportunity to grow at a faster pace."
O'Connor indicates that liveBooks has 25 or 30 creative, developer and customer service employees in Romania and a whole team in Sausalito, saying, "Out in Silicon Valley, they make things happen."
What else might we see from Mohawk as its somewhat unique strategy continues to unfold? O'Connor said, "We own 45% of MetaPaper, an online company located in Germany, and we hope to expand that into other non-English-speaking countries. We think it is a great platform for sales for the future. You will see us continue to expand our online presence, both here and internationally. In the immediate future, it will be primarily with paper and paper-related products, although we still have quite a presence in photo."