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Time Inc.’s Life magazine gets its full rebirth as a website today, as the company’s joint venture with Getty Images (NYSE: GYI) comes out of beta with 7 million images. The details of the planned launch were unveiled about six months ago at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Mixx conference. Last week, I met with Andrew Blau and Bill Shapiro, the CEO and editor of Life.com, respectively, and VP of Getty’s iStockphoto Catherine Gluckstein, who was also recently named Life.com’s CFO.
The site, which is being sponsored entirely by Rolex for its first month, is organized along 1,000 galleries. “Curation” is Life.com’s philosophy. Blau sought to emphasize that the stress would be on professional photographers and content; the only real user-generated involvement would be celebrity curators like talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres. As for Life’s other partnership with Google (NSDQ: GOOG), an image archive launched in November, Blau also notes the key differences. “Google’s about image storing,” he said. “Life.com is about image finding… We deliberately wanted to make sure that this wouldn’t be seen as an ‘archival’ site. The photos are updated constantly and reflect the news, such as the recent flood fears on the Midwest. It draws back to what the magazine originally was: capturing what was happening, but through photos, not text.”
While other sites struggle with paid content, Blau and company have that issue nailed down as well. The site will make most of its money from advertising — in addition to sponsorships like Rolex, within the next three to six months Blau wants to have galleries that are specially sponsored by marketers. It will also have a major e-commerce function, whereby users create their own photo books from site images and then order them online.