→ The Verge’s Story about the End of Everpix

Casey Newton chronicles the rise and fall of Everpix, a great service for backing up and remembering your photos:

The immediate concern in the room was a forthcoming bill from Amazon Web Services, which hosts the 400 million photos stored with Everpix; the team estimated the bill would be about $35,000. “Our AWS bill is going to be due on the third. We’re not going to be able to pay,” said Pierre-Olivier Latour, who had the idea for Everpix four years ago after a vacation left him struggling to organize the hundreds of photos he took on the trip. Behind him, a poster advertised San Francisco’s minimum wage of $10.55 an hour, which he had been paying his employees for the past month. “Amazon is going to reach out to us saying, ‘Your card doesn’t work.'” He paused. “So that’s going to be fun.”

The [Everpix] software was fast, the design was clean, and the service was simple to use. “The best part about Everpix may be its ‘set it and forget it’ nature,” TechCrunch noted at the time. “After the one-time installation and configuration, there’s nothing else you have to do.” To the team’s surprise, Everpix became a finalist at the competition. (They lost the $50,000 first prize to Shaker, a bizarre kind of Second Life-meets-Facebook social network that raised $15 million and hasn’t been heard from in a year.)

Unfortunately for Everpix, they went out to raise money in the midst of what has become known as “the series A crunch.” The number of initial (or “seed”) investments has increased dramatically in the past few years, while series A investments have plateaued. Many investors remain willing to write a $100,000 check to see if a startup becomes an overnight success. But when it comes time to write a $1 million check, or a $5 million check, they have become much more selective.

The founders acknowledge they made mistakes along the way. They spent too much time on the product and not enough time on growth and distribution. The first pitch deck they put together for investors was mediocre. They began marketing too late. They failed to effectively position themselves against giants like Apple and Google, who offer fairly robust — and mostly free — Everpix alternatives. And while the product wasn’t particularly difficult to use, it did have a learning curve and required a commitment to entrust an unknown startup with your life’s memories — a hard sell that Everpix never got around to making much easier.

It is disappointing to see just how the machines of Silicon Valley drive you to either play the VC game fully or try to build a business without any of their help. In this case, it appears the founders of Everpix tried to do a little of both and it burned them. I hope Loom sticks around a little longer.