There’s an almost unobserved but large scale Internet business being run from Estonia. It’s called Fotki. Happy tenth birthday to them!
Many people, especially from US, Canada and UK, but also Estonia, Lithuania and Iceland are familiar with the site Fotki.com. The founder Dmitri Don calls it photo-sharing, photo-printing, photo-selling and blogging website. I’d call it image-oriented social network. One that’s pretty good-looking.
Dmitri Don, who claims he never had to go to school to learn programming, says Fotki.com has more than half a million unique visitors and about 25+ million unique people who they serve images from their cluster. These are daily figures.
“We power the world”
But Fotki, as Don point out, is not just a website, but also web service. “We power the world, but nobody knows much about this!” Don says. The Estonian company is licensing photo-sharing software and providing hosting and storage services for digital content for huge global companies, with annual turnover over $50 billion.
One of them is Telecom Italia, the giant operator that’s active in seven European and Latin-American markets. Alice.it, its multifunctional web portal is powered by Fotki photo engine.
Another big guy Fotki serves is US retailer Sears, that operates more than 3800 shops. Sears’s home management and services portal ManageMyHome.com is run by Fotki’s photo engine. Don hurls names of US clients, one after the other – vacation organizer Mark Travel, media group Vegas.com, turism company Funjet.com etc.
Exceptional team in Estonia
Fotki was founded ten years ago in New York by Don and his wife Katrin Lilleoks (both pictured). By accident that was the exact same day some other guys founded Google! Fotki’s back-office and development team is in Estonia, Tallinn. This team is kind of exceptional, because it consists of 25 Russian-speaking Estonians, lead by Russian citizen Pavel Merdin.
“East Coast not a good place for Internet business”
This year Fotki moved its US office from New York to Silicon Valley. “The East Coast is not a good place for Internet business. People there don’t know much about the Internet. They ask stupid questions, like why do people want to upload their photos online?” Don claims.
An East Coast bank refused to open an account for Fotki in 2001. That’s because Don had said to the banker that he is running an Internet business. Don: “People from East Coast think that Internet business is porn, gambling, stealing and dirty money!”.
Fotki will raise some venture capital from Europe very soon. “Stay tuned!” says Don.