Here at .ME we love photography, but realistically, who doesn’t? That’s the reason why Canadian online photography community 500px (five hundred pixels) is expanding to China to dramatically increase its user base of over 10 million monthly active users. How are they planning to do it? By using a unique 500px.Me domain name to reach a potential 1.3 billion more users!
What makes 500px.Me unique among so many photography communities is the ability to go through thousands of recently uploaded photos and pick the best ones automatically, displaying them on the front of the website. Later on, each photo gets its ‘Pulse’, a rating based on the number of views, likes, and favorites. This feature of 500px is very important because it lets all users have an equal chance of getting on the front page as well as the Popular page of the service, regardless of the number of people that follow them regularly. The number of followers definitely helps, but you can still see your work rise up in the ranks of artistic photography!
The launch of 500px.Me comes after a July announcement by the company that they raised a Series B round of funding from Visual China Group, a premier content provider from – you guessed it – China. For those who don’t know VCG, it’s China’s equivalent of Getting Images, a website where you can get great photographs. 500px, which is based in Toronto, raised over $13 million from VCG with participation from existing investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Harrison Metal and ff Venture Capital.
500px.Me will be a localized version of the original 500px for the Chinese market, but it won’t be a completely separate website. What this means is that current users will be able to access a massive new audience. In the deal, 500px gets a large funding round and a strategic partner in a larger market that lots of North American companies want a piece of, but have not been able to enter.
On the other hand, Visual China Group gets a partner to create a community for its core audience that has a lot of experience with this type of project. With millions of active users, 500px is the right partner for Visual China Group to create a photography community tailored to the local, Chinese market.
While this is a big opportunity, 500px CEO Andy Yang does make a point of making sure that current and new 500px users understand how the company is now – and always will – work to protect their work. All of the photos you put on 500px are always 100% owned by you as the author, and while 500px.Me will be a localized website, the photos you delete on the original 500px will also be deleted from 500px.Me.
While most users agree that 500px.Me will be a great opportunity for them, some feel that the 500px team should have had them opt into the new website. Having in mind how 500px came up against Apple’s adult content policies while developing its iOS apps, Yang and his team will have quite a lot of work in front of them to make all their users, both old and new – happy!
500px is currently still in beta, so Yang says that we can expect things will change and feel free to provide feedback back to their team. 500px.Me is expected to fully launch by the end of the year.
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