IXLA's imaging portal reaches end of the road!|
(Tuesday, June 5, 2001 - 16:51 EDT)
...or should that be the end of the 'PhotoHighway'?
Australian company IXLA Ltd. pulled the plug on its money-burning imaging portal PhotoHighway.com last January, as part of a plan to cut costs and restore profitability to the parent company by the end of this year. A news item from our friends at Steve's Digicams notes that PhotoHighway has now filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of California, San Jose Division...
PhotoHighway was first announced in a storm of hyperbolae-filled press releases proclaiming it as the "first online digital photography portal" in January 1999 (completely ignoring the prior existence of sites such as The Imaging Resource, Steve's Digicams, Digital Photography Review, Digital Camera Resource Page and more). It launched initially as a preview site at PhotoTimes.com before moving to the PhotoHighway.com domain in late June - where it immediately suffered from slow and unreliable connectivity. A relaunch in October 1999 forged an e-commerce alliance with Ritz Camera, but failed to solve the site's problems. With PhotoHighway burning as much as US$300,000 of IXLA's money per month at its peak, the parent company effectively shut the site down and fired all but the CEO. By April, PhotoHighway only existed on paper...
In late May, IXLA applied for its subsidiary to be placed into bankruptcy... IXLA had a 30% stake in PhotoHighway, and according to Steve's article is the only creditor with a secured claim through $1.7 million in intellectual property (copyrights, license agreements, and trademarks). On top of this, there is a further $0.9 million in claims from unsecured creditors, including web design, insurance and payroll services.
In an interesting twist to the tale, it seems that whilst all roads may lead to Rome, apparently only one PhotoHighway leads to bankruptcy court - PhotoHighway Japan continues on after the death of its parent company... The Japanese arm of PhotoHighway launched in March 2000, and unlike its parent which depended mostly on (now non-existent) ad revenues for support, PhotoHighway Japan is bringing in enough in ASP revenues to keep the site active thus far. In fact, it is still signing deals, the most recent of these being an agreement to provide online photo album services to camera manufacturer Nikon for the Japanese market.