TweetPhoto, one of a number of picture-sharing services that piggyback on Twitter, says it has expanded its features beyond the microblogging social network to the point where it needs a new name. The company today announced it has changed its name to Plixi, and plans to become a photo and location-sharing platform for multiple social networks, including Twitter and Facebook. While the relaunch makes Plixi less reliant on Twitter — which has been duplicating many features developed by third-party services — it puts the company squarely in the sights of Facebook, which is the world’s largest photo-sharing network.
Plixi CEO Sean Callahan and co-founder Rodney Rumford told me in an interview that they knew at some point the company would have to change its name once it grew beyond the Twitter network, but decided to piggyback on the microblogging service as a way of building a user base. “You could say we rode the coattails of Twitter,” Callahan said. “But we’ve been bigger than just Twitter for some time, so it just felt right to change the name. Everyone assumes from the name that we are just Twitter — it’s hard to go and talk to Facebook or anyone else when your name is TweetPhoto.” Other Twitter-based platforms have managed to grow beyond Twitter, including the link-shortening service Bit.ly, which relied on the service for most of its early growth.
Users now have a separate Plixi profile, whereas in the past it was simply connected to their Twitter account. “That wasn’t great, because whenever Twitter went down, it negatively impacted our user experience,” says the Plixi CEO. The service now has both Twitter and Facebook logins. Twitter still provides about 70 to 75 percent of the traffic to the Plixi system, Callahan said, but the company is seeing more users authenticating with Facebook’s open platform protocol and pushing their photos to their Facebook wall. The giant social network makes up about 15 percent of user activity for Plixi, said Callahan, with the rest coming via MySpace, Foursquare and LinkedIn.
Callahan admits that the relaunch of the company puts it into direct competition with Facebook, which — according to founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg — is used more often than all the other photo-sharing services on the web combined. However, Plixi says it is hoping to carve out a niche by providing photo-sharing around events, something Facebook doesn’t make very easy with the newly-launched Places (at least not yet). So users who are attending the same concert, for example, could easily find or create an event page for that concert and then upload their photos and share them privately with a group of friends who were also attending. “They all go into a collaborative space devoted to that event,” said Callahan.
Plixi says it gets 25 million unique monthly visitors, and has launched an iPhone app (s aapl) under its new name (which will replace the existing TweetPhoto app) as well as an Android (s goog) app and an open API that developers can use 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 investors.
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