Photo site Webshots comes under new ownership again, will re-launch as Smile


Credit: Ki Mae Heussner

Believe it or not, Webshots, the photo company founded in the mid 1990s, is still hanging around, but soon its service will go by a slightly different name after another change in company ownership. Threefold Photos plans to announce Tuesday that it has purchased Webshots and will re-launch the product this fall, transitioning it to become a more modern photo experience called Smile by Webshots.

Threefold Photos (see disclosure below) has purchased Webshots from American Greetings for an undisclosed sum, and has taken investments from groups and individuals including Freestyle Capital, True Ventures, Chris Sacca, Biz Stone, Mike Hirshland, and others.

Smile will roll out a variety of features this fall, but core to the experience will be a photo stream aggregating user photos that are easily searchable and shareable, targeting a user demographic that might not always upload to Facebook or iCloud. However, it’s hard to say how a photo-sharing site can compete in the age of Facebook and Instagram, which dominate the photo upload and sharing experiences. Older photo sites like Photobucket and Flickr have certainly struggled to find new footing.

Webshots was founded in 1995, and by 1999 had moved the product into photo-sharing as well as the original screensavers and wallpaper. In 1999, the founders sold Webshots to Excite@Home for $82.5 million in stock. In 2001 Excite@Home declared bankrupcy, and the founders purchased Webshots back for $2.5 million. In 2004, CNET bought Webshots for $71 million, which sold it to American Greetings for $45 million in 2007. Former Webshots executives Julie Davidson, Narendra Rocherolle and Nick Wilder are now on the Board of Directors for Threefold Photos.

Beginning Tuesday, existing Webshots users will start receiving notices that their photos will be migrated to Smile, which currently has iPhone and desktop apps, with Android coming within a month. Rocherolle and CEO Mike Sitrin explained in an interview that they want Smile to be the easiest way to search and share photos, although they were light on specifics as they focus on transitioning existing users to the new service.

Disclosure: Threefold Photos is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.



Webshots was a wonderful website. I will never use Smile… I predict it will fold up like a tent… because no one is smiling. You can share pictures on face book… It is amazing that a popular web site could be transform into something that is nothing like the original. I have been to smile a couple times and there is nothing there…. what have they done? .sad to Webshots go… I will try to find another place to browse the world…I am not Smiling


and how about us, the senior citizens? We have no choice but to pay for the subscriptions?

Amenda Alexander

SMILE WEB SITE STINKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOT LIKE WEBSHOTS BY FAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Melissa Brookstone

I just commented and then used facebook to login, but where did my long comment go???


I don’t know, but it’s happened to me, enough times in the past! Now, before I post a comment or even send an email, I copy what I wrote, in case it gets lost. ♥


I have to add. This is a classic case of trying to fix something that was NOT broken.


I agree totally with Marylou, Jean Chao, James Williams, and what looks like the rest of your paying community. BRING BACK THE OLD WEBSHOTS. It was far more capable. This new Smile doesnt cycle my desktop pics.
I think what most people wanted was a place to download high quality, attractive wallpapers and screensavers. Not a social media experience. Totally wrong direction Smile…

Laying Low

Don’t download the new smile program… it will move all your saved webshot desktop photos & place a huge new watermark in the lower left corner of your screen. On Win-7 it will sit behind desktop icons & looks really bad. It will also changes high resolution images to a lower quality & modify the ratio of saved files. If you’ve already downloaded do a system restore to get back webshots desktop, then uninstall the smile program as fast as possible.

chris long

Mere words cannot describe the contempt i have for SMILE. How stupid are these idiots launching a product before it works. WE ALL NOW KNOW THIS SMILE DOES NOT WORK AT ALL!
no matter how many updates and re install uninstalls i have done i can’t even delete a photo in one of my files and its a pic i don’t want to see on my screensaver or wall paper but there it is…and delete after delete it still remains.
I find that this new Smile needs to make a trip to ACE or True Value, they are having a sale on balls, they might find it advisable to pick up a couple of pairs I am beginning to believe all these idiots are past Obama admin ppl and we all know the lying and actually no common sense.
These Smile people should at least have a live chat 24/7 if only to appease or to actually solve the too many problems that are inherent with Smile
I suspect if i was not a PAYING MEMBER I’d not give a ratz ask but I have paid for the Premium membership and I’m boiling mad


As all these disapointed clients say, I’m totally upset. Now I have a small pop up window telling me to accept a webshotsupplant.exe to get into my PC, and it shows as an unknown editor. How can a serious company launch such a thing. We all aoround the world, not only in the US are really desapointed with this. How can I know it isn’t a virus?


I do not want smile, I do not want to share my pictures with others, I do not want ‘friends’, I do not want it on my iphone or ipad. I pay to store my photos with you and access all the pro photos for my desktop and to access all of this by my shortcut on my desk. If I can keep that as it is, fine, but I do not want all this other stuff, including the fact the that the min. time I can display photos is 10 seconds, that there are automatic downloads, etc. There was no warning of this change, just changed when I started the computer up. I never received any notification of this change in advance.


I really hope that the customers that paid will sue them for that. I happened to say I want the new Smile Webshots and they introduced a bug, which took over my home page. I got rid of it doing a restore point quickly enough and removing webshots, but now, whenever I turn on the computer, they want to install again the unfunctionnal Smile. Too bad, I loved my changing desktop and nice screensaver!


I’ve been a paying member since 1995. I’ve gifted many with paid memberships and have turned on many others to the blessed images of webshots.

I don’t want a refund. I WANT A DECENT APPROXIMATION OR BETTER OF THE OLD WEBSHOTS. AND I WANT THE HIDEOUS HUGE COPYRIGHT NOTICE oblitering many Scriptures on many photos webshots had NOTHING to do with TOTALLY REMOVED. Put a thin verticle copyright notice on the left margin. Sheesh what an unmitigated mess.


I AGREE 100% about the copy right issue. I bought pictures from another website with the idea that I would not be sharing them or sending them out without giving credit to the original artist and photograher in some cases. However, SMILE took not only that away from me and put me in an horrible position, but now they have WEBSHOT copy right all across every photo I had in my albums including my family photos etc. I do not think that is legal. Any ideas from anyone who we can contact regarding computer fraud or computer hacking of our personal property??? I’m open to suggestions…..


Oh good, its not just me. When Norton warned me not to download this program, I started doing some searching, wondering if I was just being a luddite and not wanting change. Nope – its about sharing on different devices that I don’t even use. Apparently, based on the comments above, if you do download the new site, all sorts of problems happen. Over the years we have downloaded tons of photos of places we have visited, mainly for websavers but also for sharing. They are all gone. Im incredibly unhappy about this. What were they thinking? I do hope that they take a look at comments like these. It not, they are going to take a very big fall.


Please write a follow-up article to this horribly botched ‘transition’. Smile is installed on a PC without the user’s consent which has caused major issues. People can’t find their photos, they can’t download their photos. If you need to talk to a real person, good luck. There is no email or phone contact information. The owners are nowhere to be found. They won’t even respond on their own Smile Facebook page. Please check out some of the comments – it will blow your mind.


Agapeluv, I agree with what everyone is saying my pics were on webshots so I could save them, and share with my family. Now I can’t even find them. There were many years of photos I had on webshots. I too had screen savers saved and desktops photos I can’t find them anywhere. I’m afraid to delete smile until I hope can help me find my saved pictures. This is more than a rip off. You have taken years of pictures that are irreplaceable to me of my family and more.I wish I had never downloaded your program.


I followed Smile’s complicated instructions, in order to transfer my Webshots photos to Smile. Somehow Smile transferred every imaginable photo from facebook. Not just all of my fb photos, that I didn’t want in Smile, but hundreds, maybe thousands of my fb friends fb photos, including everybody’s profile pic, fb advertisement photos, scads of pics I’ve never seen before, hundreds smaller than a postage stamp! I’m also a very frustrated paying Webshots customer.


Wow – one massive cock-up is unfolding right in front of us.
I’ll be following this one to see what happens.

I will lose hundred and hundreds of links to webshots photos in many discussion fora I think.
Some I will be able to edit and re-construct, some I won’t.

Nice one Smile :(


I can’t get to my account page, if they still have it. At least they can’t charge on it anymore because the expiration date has expired. Eventually they will have to account for the monitary gain they have for these months we can’t download and what we have lost. They said the calendar is coming back. They say a lot of things. Time will tell. They have a lot of work to do for the launch first of the year. However I would think we would see improvements while they are doing them. I’m thinking this is all there is!


I don’t like this!! No screen saver, no pictures – but they have my membership fee!! Plus – I can’t get it to work with what they do have available. Keeps asking for me to sign up???? Pretty dissapointed in the whole mess!

denise jonas

I lost all of my photo who the hell want smile desktop could not change my photo it keep flicking all the time so I am stuck with one that would not come off my desktop,got it off desktop left black we want our old program back..please


I lost most of the functionality that I use as a member for many years. I have downloaded hundreds or even thousands of professional photos, but with the new Smile Desktop I am unable to even change the wallpaper automatically. Also the screensave is never as it used to be, so I am not happy at all.


I, like the rest of the others here, will not use Webshot. It doesn’t serve my need anymore. And I hate the new SMILE by Webshot.

Wayne Coleman

The biggest issue I face with loosing webshots is that the screensaver and wallpaper use the two file types. jpg for the actual photo and the wb1 file fo rthe photo data. Smile does not use the wb1 file which means all of the photos I use as screensaver and wallpaper will now not have a descrition for them. I do not use webshots to share photos but only use the wallpaper and screensaver program.

I can sympathise with all of the photographers that use webshots site as photos sharing site and the loss of this site will form a huge hole in sharing photos

Carol King

Webshots sent me a notice that I could download my photos at Webshots, but the link is invalid! I refuse to download Smile (which told me I MUST allow the new program!). I will miss all the great photos, the calendar, wallpaper and screensaver. I too saw all the negative comments before they shut down the site forum. I am angry about the way they have made this change, with no warning to Webshots users. One day I had it…the next it was gone. Really great way to run a business. I predict that ‘Smile’ is going to turn into a ‘Frown’, when previous users leave in droves and find new photo sharing sites!

Kelly Bevan

As a loyal Webshots member since the mid 90’s I thought the application was great and used as my Screensaver and Wallpaper on all computers. I download thousands of professional photos from their Website.

Further, I do not think that I will be a customer for Smile and I have no use for cloud based photo management.

However, I am really annoyed that this new company keeps removing the Webshots application from my computer and upgrading it to Smile without my permission. It is not even functional as a screensaver and desktop ap! I have reloaded Webshots form CNET but whenever my machine is rebooted the software again uninstalls Webshots and installs Smile… again without permission.

This is shocking and totally unacceptable. All I want to do is continue to run an unsupported version of Webshots to continue to view all my professional photo archive, and then l I find another Wallpaper and Screensaver application.

Lisa P

Hey American Greetings! You know what you got for your $45 million? You got bupkiss, because you haven’t given us any of the features that we purchased the Webshots program for. We want to be able to have our Wallpapers rotate, we want to be able to download photos that we WANT, not be forced to have photos downloaded that we don’t want and we want to be able to figure out how to use the d*** program. You are going to lose BIG TIME!. Give us back our old features or ALL of you customers are history!


I have been a member since 1997 and 40,000 photos on my screensaver. My technician transferred my photos to Smile and my computer would freeze forcing me to shut down and restart 5 times on the first night. He just uninstalled Smile, downloaded webshots software, still available and downloaded all my 40,000 photos back on my screensaver. Without public sharing and unlimited downloading, who needs Smile, really!

R. Coleman

I did some digging and found this “Smile Webshots Re-imbursement” site, for any of you wanting to get some of you subscription fee refunded (albeit pro-rated), put this site in you search bar and fill it out>>> this site can also be found on the Webshots blog site>>>> scroll down about a 1/4 of the way and you will see “Note to Members Re: Refund Requests” you will find the refund link in this section….Good Luck!!!!


I sent Smilke an email and they basically told me they wouldn’t honor my present subsciption which in my opinion is a rip off. My sub. runs out 07/14/2013, a person by the name of Corey Nelson told me that I wouldn’t be givin credit forward after Dec. 1st and no refund for the remainder after that date……try this number and bug the crap out of them 1-800-222-8815 about this issue, somebody needs to be held accountable and not just sweep this thing under the rug, i got a feeling this post won’t stay up long before they take it down, but i will be contacting the BBB ….smells like a class action suit waiting to happen.


All I want is the rotating professional photo’s like webshots used to do. I do not want the wallpaper. HELP, HELP, HELP, I am about ready to say GOODBY. How do I get my revolving photo’s like I had from webshots????

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