GumGum reports strong usage, completes funding round

Tracking photos on the web isn’t easy. And getting paid a royalty each time a photo is viewed? Fuggedaboutit.

Well, GumGum says it can do just that. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based start-up has an analytics technology that tracks photos across the web and counts how many times they are viewed. It allows the copyright owner to get paid per view or to be paid a share of ads that go with the photos.

The company announced today that it has completed a first round of $1.2 million in funding that we previously reported was in the works. First Round Capital and Crosscut Ventures led the round. Ophir Tanz, chief executive of GumGum, said that the company has tested the technology in the past 60 days and has had some astounding results. More than 300 million views of licensed photos have been tracked each month.

GumGum tried out the usage-based content-licensing technology on MTV Europe as well as a number of sites that belong to Gawker Media, which owns blogs such as Gawker, Jesebel, Defamer, i09 and Valleywag. Typically, photographers can get paid if they sell their photos to stock-photo companies such as Getty Images, which charges a standard flat rate.

But Tanz says that with such a royalty scheme there is no way to distinguish between the high-use photos and the ones that don’t get used.

“Online content lives forever, but usage is almost entirely unknown,” he said.

Other companies wrap software layers around photos using Adobe’s Flash technology to collect analytic data for photo usage. Competitors using Flash include Kickapps and Mochila. But Tanz said his company’s second version technology can track any photo, whether it is in the Flash format or any other format.

Nick Denton, publisher of Gawker Media, said in a statement that GumGum reduces his photo-licensing costs and still allows Gawker to publish high-quality photos from a number of photo agencies. Tanz and Ari Mir founded GumGum in 2006 and launched the company’s site in November 2007.


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