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Summary:

TweetPhoto, which allows users to share photos through Twitter, announced a funding round of $2.6 million today from several venture investors. But is the company just a “hole filler” for Twitter? Tweetphoto says its service also works with other social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

UPDATED: TweetPhoto, a service that allows users to share pictures through Twitter, said this morning that it’s closed a Series A funding round of $2.6 million from Canaan Partners, Anthem Partners and angel investors. So is this a case of a “hole-filler” getting funded? Last week, both Twitter investor Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and CEO Evan Williams talked about how there were various apps and add-on services that were simply “filling holes” in Twitter’s feature list, and that some of those would inevitably either get acquired or see competition from features launched by the company itself. Within days of those comments, Twitter bought the Tweetie iPhone app and released an official BlackBerry app, causing consternation among some third-party app developers.

For what it’s worth, TweetPhoto made sure to note in its press release and other public statements that its service can be used to share photos — and other media — across multiple networks, including Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn. The company also said that its APIs (application programming interfaces) support features that include commenting on photos, favoriting and voting, meta-data filters, geo-tagging and location-based search. It said the funding will be used to accelerate the development of a “real-time media sharing platform for the social web.” In other words, it’s not all about Twitter.

So does that mean the company will be changing its name? Because TweetPhoto sounds a lot like something that just works on Twitter. And does that mean the company’s real competition is in the form of services like Flickr and Picasa, or apps like Pixelpipe, which also allow photo sharing to multiple networks? I’ve got a request for comment in to the CEO, and will update if and when I get a response. In addition to the recent funding, Kodak also owns an equity stake in the company.

Update: TweetPhoto CEO Sean Callahan said in an interview (while he and his team were driving to the Chirp conference) that he thinks the company’s future is “pretty bright” despite the recent maneuvering involving Twitter and third-party apps and services. “We’re building a real-time media sharing platform for the social web,” he said. “Twitter is just one aspect of it.” Callahan admitted, however, that the company’s name implies that it is focused primarily on Twitter, and said they are thinking of changing it. “It’s something we’re definitely talking about, and we probably will at some point,” he said. As far as competing with Twitter goes, the CEO said that “it was kind of inevitable that Twitter would likely get into photo-sharing” and that’s why the company started adding support for other networks about four months ago.

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  1. Hole-fillers may be worth funding, given that Twitter has demonstrated willingness to acquire in order to fill holes. This may be especially true right now, given that recent events may have scared off some other hole-fillers, and so Twitter’s acquisition options may become more limited.

    We can think of hole-filling as spec work. The hole in Twitter is an implicit request for ways to fill it. Hole-filling apps are the responses. One of the responses gets acquired.

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    1. That’s a fair point, Andrew — but it’s kind of a lottery, no? There can be only one :-)

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      1. One per niche/hole. If you can stake a claim to that hole before anyone else, and do so in such a way as to deter others, you’re looking good.

        I’m not sure that it’s a lottery… unless Twitter selects acquisition targets randomly.

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  2. Yes, stupidly

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  3. If they were going to buy someone out I would suspect a service that’s Twitter only and doesn’t have funding that needs to be recovered. The owners probably won’t sell at a loss (until they think Twitter is dead). Besides, TweetPhoto does some pretty under-handed things (like adding themselves to your following with flaky justification) and if they keep that up I don’t see them becoming more popular than TwitPic or other similar services.

    And flickr already posts to Twitter, I’m sure some of the other ‘real’ photo sharing services do too and in a matter of time they all will. The choice will be between a ‘real’ photo service like flickr or a one-of service integrated right-into Twitter. All these hole-filler’s days are numbered!

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  4. [...] to integrate the service into other apps and services. The company, which was founded last year, closed a $2.6-million Series A round of funding in April from Canaan Partners, Anthem Partners and a series of angel [...]

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  5. [...] and is focused on sharing photos from social networks including Twitter and Facebook. The company raised a Series B round earlier this year of $2.6 million from Canaan Partners and a group of angel investors. As Twitter [...]

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