Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Business done differently

I have been wanting to blog about SmugMug, the online photo hosting site that my wife and I use. I was having a hard time articulating what I wanted to say about it. Fortunately for me, the LATimes solved that problem.
They have a great two page article on SmugMug and what makes it cool. Do check it out here.
I am pretty sure we under-utilize our smugmug page :-) We are not active on the message boards either but we are feeling pretty good that our pictures are in really good hands. If you don't have an online photo site or are in the market for one, do take a look at SmugMug, they are really passionate about what they do.

Some good quotes from the LA Times article:
The MacAskills are determined to retain control of their business, turning down all offers to invest in or buy the company. Employees, who include "sorcerers" (engineers) and "support heroes" (customer service staff), agree that SmugMug wouldn't be the same with outside influence.

SmugMug may have one of the most distinctive corporate characters in Silicon Valley. After all, this is the company that in January gave a couple, Naomi Smith and Roger Brimacombe from Fetlar, one of Scotland's Shetland islands, a lifetime SmugMug membership in exchange for a sheep. As part of the lighthearted deal, the ram, which remained on Fetlar, was christened Smuggy, and SmugMug's green smiley face logo was spray painted on his coat, where it remained until he was sheared this fall.

Sean Rogan, 33, was a SmugMug customer who used to keep readers of Chris' motorcycle forum on the edge of their seats with his tales of life on the road. While he was passing through San Francisco on his way to Guatemala, Chris surprised him by offering him a job as the company writer.

"I thought: Could this have really found me?" Rogan said.

They also reward customer loyalty. Two years ago, when SmugMug raised its prices, it grandfathered in all its current customers. Every year, SmugMug organizes "shootouts" for its customers: roving expeditions to national parks with expert instruction on how to get the perfect shot.

And once, as payment for photo services, the MacAskills accepted livestock.
Like I said, business done differently. I was pretty encouraged and inspired by their story. Let me know what you think.

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