Six years after selling Photobucket to News Corp. for $300 million, Alex Welch is launching a new way to share photos with your family and friends. Rather than making photos available on Instagram, Flickr, or any number of social networks according to privacy settings, Welch’s new venture, Lasso, lets friends ask for photos from each others’ camera rolls.
Welch, who left Photobucket in 2009, decided about a year ago that he wanted to build a better camera roll for iOS with a few friends. He says they ultimately decided that the biggest thing missing from their camera rolls was their friends’ photos.
If you look at the pictures people share publicly as the tip of the iceberg of total photos they have, Welch argues that many people would be willing to share a lot more of those moments.
“You’re probably okay with sharing those photos with select people, but there isn’t an easy way to do that,” he tells me.
I’ve played around with the app a bit and I like it. You simply swipe a contact’s name to the right to send them photos, and to the left to request photos. When they’ve added new photos, a little subtle icon pops up next to their name.
The speed of sharing will be huge for Lasso. If people can ask close friends what they’ve been up to in their new city or on vacation, and they can quickly shoot over a dozen photos, Lasso could start attracting a nice user base.
There are a ton of ways I currently share pictures with friends besides social networks-SMS, Snapchat, and email immediately come to mind. And yet, looking through my camera roll, I realize there are a ton of images that I haven’t shared that my friends might enjoy.
Lasso has raised a $1.25 million seed round from Welch, Jerry Murdock, Greylock Partners’ seed fund, and Trinity Ventures, which Welch says will mostly go toward more product development.
Lasso will expand beyond photos soon, explaining that the concept can be applied to “any piece of digital content,” from videos to documents to apps your friends are using.
“What are things that you do or that you have every day that you’d be okay sharing with me if I specifically ask for it,” he says.
The iOS app is live now, and Welch says the Android app should be released in the next couple of weeks.