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How Filepicker lets content flow without worrying about bandwidth

Consumers store their personal content everywhere online — Evernote, Gmail (s goog), Dropbox, Flickr (s yhoo), Facebook (s fb), just to name a few places — but getting stuff from one place to another can be a pain. Need to set a profile picture for a new service, but all your good photos are sitting in Facebook albums? That probably means downloading the photo locally, maybe editing it, and then finally uploading it to the new service., a Y Combinator company headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., thinks it can turn this process on its head with just two lines of code.

The way it works is actually pretty simple: App developers integrate with Filepicker by inserting a few lines into their source code, and Filepicker gives them API access to a broad range of cloud services where consumer content is stored. Users can then upload and download content — photos, documents, whatever — straight to and from the app. Essentially, it cuts out the middleman.

However, as Filepicker co-founder and CFO Anand Dass told me recently, there’s a little more to it than that. For starters, he explained, Filepicker deals in URLs rather raw content. So, someone trying to upload an enormous document over a bogged-down mobile network or dial-up modem doesn’t have to worry too much. All the heavy lifting is done on servers — Filepicker’s, which are in the Amazon Web Services cloud, and wherever the content is stored — outside the last mile.

In the future, Dass thinks the company can make its service even faster and become something like a content-delivery network for accessing user content spread across the web. A shorter-term goal is just to add more functionality, such as asyncrhonuous uploads, or support for Microsoft (s msft) SharePoint.

Filepicker is young — it’s only had a product available for about five months — but it already has some impressive traction. Dass said about 2,700 developers currently use it, and the amount is doubling every month. Among its early customers are mobile photo-editing app Aviary, mobile-printing app Breezy, and bug-tracking service Bugly.

Dass did note there’s still a challenge in convincing companies to pay for Filepicker (there are multiple editions, including a free one) instead of just building something similar themselves, but he offered up some math that might do the trick. They could pay $50 a month for Filepicker’s popular Pro plan, or they could pay an engineer about $10,000 to build something over eight weeks. However, he noted, that feature probably won’t be as fast as Filepicker, and it will cost a lot of money to keep up and expand to cover new services.

Another challenge: getting Filepicker’s service to run across multiple clouds, not just AWS. The company wants a reliable service that won’t be burned by an outage at one provider, but it can be difficult to build something that runs across such disparate offerings. However, Dass noted, Filepicker Head of Mobile and Infrastructure Thomas Georgiou used to work at Facebook, so he’s pretty good at figuring that stuff out.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user italianestro.

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