Waldo, a photo-sharing platform that has historically targeted businesses, schools, camps, sports federations and other organizations, is taking advantage of growing anti-Facebook sentiment to promote its newly launched consumer product. Today the company offers a service aimed at sharing private photos between family and friends which it promotes as an “ad-free, non-toxic” and private alternative to mainstream social sites, such as Facebook and Instagram.
Of course, this is just marketing for Waldo. It can be said that consumers already You have Private and ad-free alternatives to sharing photos outside of social media. They can create invite-only photo albums on platforms like Google Photos or share them privately via iCloud from Apple. They can send images through encrypted mobile messaging applications. However, Waldo believes there is room for a standalone app that is available across platforms and offers a different set of features.
The Waldo app is available on iOS, Android, and the web and includes a wireless DSLR upload feature aimed at photo enthusiasts. Consumers who want to use the service for private sharing can create galleries of their events and then invite people who want to share those photos with them. When others join joint galleries, they can opt in to have Waldo send alerts about any photos they’re in with push notifications or text alerts.
The app also provides a closed loop for commenting and feedback that allows the photo owner and commenter to have a private interaction that no one else has seen on the album.
New consumer plans are offered with either a Plus or Premium subscription at $4.99 per month or $9.99 per month, respectively. The first supports up to 5 family members and the other up to 10, with unlimited invites and contributors. In addition to this, it also includes a storage capacity of 100 GB while the Premium offers 200 GB.
However, these plans are more expensive than what the major tech competitors offer. For comparison, Google One Basic’s 100GB storage plan, which includes photos and files, is $1.99 per month, and 200GB is $2.99 per month. iCloud+ is $0.99 per month for 50GB in the US or $2.99 per month for 200GB. So Waldo will really need to sell consumers its feature set of facial-recognition-enabled smart notifications, special feedback, and custom printing options.
Waldo plans to build on his existing partnerships with professional industries, such as camps, schools and churches that use Waldo as a tool to privately share photos with other parents.
Over the past five years, Waldo has been slowly increasing its footprint outside the consumer space. Today, it has “hundreds of thousands” of customers, including a range of families and employees at K-12 organizations and businesses the app serves. Its business customers can use the app’s facial recognition features (with parental permission) to automatically identify and tag students, campers, event goers, and other attendees. This way, parents don’t have to look at hundreds of photos the organization might take to find only those that show their or their children.
This paid subscription-based service has been adopted by groups across the US and Canada, but Waldo doesn’t disclose its revenue.
Waldo tells us that the plan is not to pivot from the current b2b offering, but instead to expand to a new group of users.
Since parents and others may already have Waldo installed on their phones, the company sees potential to turn it into a consumer photo-sharing service. Recipients of shared photos don’t necessarily need to download the app to join – the service can be used without installing an app from a web browser on any device.
As a Waldo user through my kid’s camp, this transition makes sense. Instead of downloading shared Waldo photos to my phone just to rotate and reshare them with grandparents through another platform, I can see how it might be easier to join Waldo’s consumer subscription plan and send “camp photo” albums to a few family members.
“We will continue to provide our communities with the Waldo Pro solution because it represents an important added value for our families who seek to have all of their family photos, no matter who took them, in one cloud-based, mobile-friendly location, and a huge benefit to our communities that benefit from a more secure photo-sharing platform, Waldo CEO Rodney Rice told TechCrunch.
“The launch of Waldo Plus and Premium represents our openness to the platform from having access only as a member of one of our ‘Waldo-fied’ communities to every consumer’s ability to use the platform for daily engagement and all the events in their lives,” he says.