In The Beginning

Photo Credit: Jaisen Mathai

In The Beginning

This post is part of a series chronicling my 3 year startup journey. Each post can be read individually but to get the full picture I suggest starting from the beginning.

It was February 6, 2011 when I posted to HackerNews about an idea I had. The idea was a way store and share your photos while ensuring their permanence for decades into the future. This wasn’t the first idea I’ve had nor was it the first idea I’d end up leaving my job to pursue. In fact, this ended up being the third photo service I’d launch.

8 years prior I had started working on something named Photagious. It was 2003 and the Internet looked much different then than it does today.

Facebook or Flickr hadn’t been launched and everyone had a Hotmail account. Digital cameras were only starting to become popular and Kodak was still producing cameras and film. 5 years after starting Photagious we shut it down at the end of 2007. The hardest part of shutting the service down was receiving emails a year later inquiring if we had backups of the photos we had deleted prior to sending servers back to HP.

That’s when the seeds for OpenPhoto were planted though they lay dormant for several years.

Detoxing from start-up life in California

I was newly married and we had just moved to the San Francisco Bay Area from Ohio to start my new job at Yahoo!. The last thing I wanted to think about was pursuing another idea. Instead Rachel and I spent the next 3 years discovering and falling in love with Sunnyvale; the city we moved to.

My first day at Yahoo!. November 20, 2007. Credit: Jaisen Mathai CC BY.

In June of 2010 we had our son, Tavin. Life became infinitely better and busier. My collection of photos started getting infinitely bigger as well. We were taking a ridiculous number of photos and videos. They were all priceless and grew in value as Tavin became older.

I revisted the question of what to do with all these photos. It was important to us that they be around when Tavin was in his 20s and beyond. I began realizing that technology was converging to enable the organization and sharing of photos without sacrificing data ownership or portability.

The seeds for OpenPhoto had been planted.

Leaving Yahoo!

I decided to take the bold step of quitting my job to start OpenPhoto. With Yahoo! owning Flickr I didn’t want there to be any muddy waters. It wasn’t an easy decision but one I don’t regret looking back.

My last day at Yahoo!. May 31, 2011. Credit: Jaisen Mathai CC BY.

I’d eventually miss the free lattes I enjoyed at Yahoo! but my body was probably better off.