Now This is Rich, Zoto Accuses Zooomr of “Copying” Them on Their Corporate Blog

[I’m CEO of Zooomr]

Ok, now this is rich and gave me a good laugh this morning. Over at the zoto blog (they are a photo sharing site out in Oklahoma that is accusing Zooomr of “copying” them) apparently someone who goes by kordless is pissed off because someone wrote a blog post about Google acquiring Zooomr.

Their evidence that we are copying them and “blatently ripping them off” seems to come down to three things best I can tell.

1. We are coming out with a thumbnail view of photos on Zooomr. Yes, zoto would seem to think that they now own the thumbnail view.

2. That we have a lightbox mode (and have had for quite some time now).

3. And that we are using heart icons for our faves (apparently they say they had used hearts to designate faves in some demo release or something that I assure you neither Kristopher or I have ever seen).

My reply to zoto (I’d reply in the comments section of their blog but they don’t have a comments section on their blog) is that this is the craziest pile of BS that I’ve ever heard of. Well, not quite the craziest, Yahoo/Flickr trying to actually patent the concept of rank and relevance for a photo sharing site ranks probably a tad higher, but in response to your WTF, I’ll reply back WTF?

Believe it or not neither Kristopher Tate (our Founder and lead developer) or I have ever spent any time at all on your photo sharing site. We are not checking out your demos for things to steal. etc. etc. etc.

If you want to pick a fight, I’m all for it though.

Look, Zooomr gets attacked all the time. Usually though we get accused of copying Flickr not someone like zoto. My response to you is to grow up and build a better site. You don’t own the thumbnail view, you don’t own the lightbox view, and if you want to file a patent app for the concept of using a “heart” to denote a favorite go for it. The thumbnail view and lightbox view were around a long time before Zooomr, zoto or flickr were even invented. In fact light box has been a feature on Zooomr since day one and I think we actually implemented it before you did so maybe you are copying us.

I think people should worry more about innovating and creating the best photo sharing in the world than bitching about how people are copying them anyways. Look, is much of Zooomr inspired by other internet properties, absolutely. Just as Flickr was inspired by delicious to come up with tagging photos we are inspired by people all the time. But do you hear us bitching about the fact that we were doing geotagging of photos and then a few months later Flickr miraculously came up with geotagging? Or the fact that Zooomr is localized in multiple languages and now Flickr is planning on localizing in multiple languages? Of course not.

If Flickr or zoto or anyone wants to geotag or localize or include any of the features that you find on Zooomr I say more power to you. Instead of being proprietary, think about the fact that competition benefits us all and in the end drives us all to innovate more and more.

Competition is a GREAT thing. The users benefit in the end. When Zooomr doubled Flickr’s limits for bandwidth allocations for Pro accounts do you know what Flickr did? They one upped us and a month latter made their Pro accounts entirely unlimited in bandwidth (although they do still restrict your photos to 10MB which sucks if you happen to be shooting with a Canon 5D). So what did Zooomr do? We moved our account limits for Pro and FREE accounts to unlimited bandwidth one upping Flickr even more. We’re still waiting to see Flickr try to match our “no limits” photo sharing for both Pro AND free accounts but we’re doubtful that they can match this one.

Who wins when this happens? The user wins. Assuming we can all stay in business (and I believe at least Zooomr and Flickr can) the user wins in the end.

So rather than complain about the fact that something as inane as Zooomr using a heart for our faves (and by the way this isn’t something new at all, we’ve been using the heart for faves ever since we introduced faves on Zooomr) my suggestion is that you STFU and instead build something better than either Zooomr or Flickr.

If, on the other hand, attacking Zooomr (knowing its hot-headed argumentative CEO and all) is just some way to try to generate additional exposure in the blogosphere for zoto, well, then, congratulations, it probably just worked for you.

By the way your home page looks an awful lot like Flickr’s give the gift of Pro page.

Now, who wants to come after Zooomr next? Snapfish? Pikeo?

Update: This is good. I have figured out a way to comment on the Zoto corporate blog where they attack us but I have to pay them $29.99 to do it. At least these guys get blogging.

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18 Comments

  1. I think AOL used to use a heart for their ‘Favorites’, or whatever they called their internet bookmarks. So they have BOTH of you beat! 🙂

  2. I think AOL used to use a heart for their ‘Favorites’, or whatever they called their internet bookmarks. So they have BOTH of you beat! 🙂

  3. TravisP says:

    Hey that is hilarious.

    O’ Oh, I see on their website that they have a function on the bottom of their site that provides a quick link to other sections of their website… I think they have copied that from EVERY OTHER web site out there, bar a few that don’t use it.

    O’ Oh, I think they have also stolen that bubble effect on their sign me up button, I think I saw a website about three years ago that used that one.

    Claiming that these ideas have been copied for clearly obvious functions is just a joke. The web is an entire world of functions and features copied from every other site. There are only a few truly original ideas out there and I don’t think thumbnail views and hearts for favourites are those… O’ Oh, I think I just saw a thumbnail view in Microsoft’s media Centre… maybe they copied it from Zoto. haha ha haah ahhahah hahahh.

    TravisP

  4. Dave! says:

    I still think it’s a little funny that Zooomr has a CEO who uses as pseudonym. A pen name is fine for your blog, but for Zooomer, you should be more transparent.

  5. Thomas Hawk says:

    Hey Dave, if you want to know my real name it’s pretty easy to get. Just do a “who is” search for thomashawk.com.

    I still have my day job in the investment business though in addition to working as Zooomr’s CEO (four kids, a mortgage and all that to support which start-ups aren’t so good at) and I’m not able to publish under my real name because of that.

    My real name has been mentioned on my blog many times before though and Thomas Hawk is actually a fairly well known identity that I use professionally in the tech world as well as as a published photographer.

    I’ve been pretty forthcoming about my situation and have done nothing to hide my real name.

  6. Michele says:

    Dear Thomas, If we try to think in a positive way, this sounds really great.
    Yahoo people attacked you in Zooomr Blog (yes, I read all the comments). Now Zoto also attacked you. That means you are gaining in strength and users.
    And I’m one of them.

  7. Go get them Hawk. I love it. The bird of prey is swooping down on some rats. Nature, that’s all this is.

  8. Aaron says:

    FYI: There is a comment feature on the zoto blog … you need to login to access it though. (A bit annoying, yes).

  9. Thomas Hawk says:

    FYI: There is a comment feature on the zoto blog … you need to login to access it though. (A bit annoying, yes).

    Aaron

    Unfortunately in order to log in you need to have an account there which costs $29.99 a year. I don’t think I’m going to be signing up. I can get the same amount of storage and bandwidth on Zooomr for free 😉

  10. Dave! says:

    Thomas-

    I know it’s not hard to find your real name–and I understand your conflicts. I’m just saying it would show a lot more faith in the potential and success of Zooomer if you used your real name in connection with it.

    I all too well understand the reality of paying the bills. But when you believe in something, putting your name on it shows just how much you believe in it. And conversely, not putting your name on it shows how much you want to hedge your bets.

    For the record: not trying to “out” you or disparage Zooomr (which I think is quite cool). Just offering an observation…

  11. Thomas Hawk says:

    Dave, as a licensed securities professional and registered representative I’m not allowed to publish stuff on the internet without first having it approved by my a principal of the firm where I work via the guidelines of where I work that puts food on the table for my family. This is not conducive to blogging unfortunately. It would kill my ability to blog if every single post I posted needed to be reviewed by a Series 24 principal prior to publication.

    You can think what you want about the fact that I use Thomas Hawk as a professional identity. But my faith in Zooomr has nothing to do with it. My salary for Zooomr is zero. It’s an internet startup. I have to work another job while I do it by necessity. If and when I’m in a financial position to take care of my family things will likely be different.

    Thomas Hawk is no less who I am than Anna Nicole Smith was who Vickie Lynn Marshall was.

  12. McCloskey says:

    Why would Zoto criticize Kristopher for using Lightbox JS? Isn’t that kind of what it is there for? Furthermore, isn’t that whole idea behind open-source code/libraries/etc? Doesn’t make sense to re-invent the wheel just to say you did it all yourself. In fact, I think it shows that Zooomr cares about what is important. One more reason for me to trust my photos to them.

    I think the success of Zooomr speaks for itself. When you start gettin’ haterz you know you are moving on up! 😉

    @Dave: IMHO, I think it would be much more beneficial to Zooomr for Thomas to use his pen name. It is well-known. To use his real name would be pointless. To me, it shows more trust in Zooomr that he would risk his very popular pen name and attach it to Zooomr.

  13. Thomas – Sorry for the wacky behavior from our cousins in OKC. Just not proper. Here in Tulsa we don’t condone that kind of behavior (notice the shotguns in the back window of our pickups?). Just do your thing. If that’s the biggest “problem” they’ve encountered they’re not trying hard enough.

  14. Picholine says:

    Here you say:

    “Believe it or not neither Kristopher Tate (our Founder and lead developer) or I have ever spent any time at all on your photo sharing site. We are not checking out your demos for things to steal. etc. etc. etc.”

    But a year and a half ago, you blogged this:

    “I don’t use use Webshots or Flickr anymore, because of the obvious limitations with Webshots, and because Flickr won’t let me (a free account uploader), let people download high res images. Zoto.com and 23hq.com provide Flickr like features (tagging, rss, all that cool stuff etc) and let me share high res photos.”

    http://thomashawk.com/2005/11/flickr-and-webshots-classic-web20-case.html

    Sounds like you were actually a fan of Zoto at one point. And I guess you’ve since changed your mind about using flickr since you have an active account there.

    Of course this doesn’t prove anything unethical but it does seem less than truthful.

  15. Thomas Hawk says:

    Picholine, you need to learn to differentiate between what a blogger writes and what people who comment on their blog write. Two very different things.

    Those words that you attribute to me are not my words at all. Go back and review the original post. The quote that you attribute to me is actually that of a commenter on my site.

    Way different thing.

    The person that made the comment that you attribute as “untruthful” to me was actually someone named Bennett Baldwin. For what it’s worth I don’t have nor have I ever had (to the best of my knowlege) an account on Zoto.

  16. Picholine says:

    So sorry for the oversight, Thomas. I think I need to get more sleep instead of staying up into the wee hours researching photosharing apps.

    As a former journalist and avid blogger, I have absolutely no excuse (other than the recent birth of our third child) for failing to differentiate between your post and the comments section. Hopefully that will be the last time I hit apple-f and don’t scroll around it to make sure I’m still in the body of the post!

  17. Jay says:

    Ha Ha Ha — I am so happy that zoto still sucks — bunch of dopes
    Jay

  18. Jay says:

    Well I thought I would give Zoto a couple years and check back and see how the company is doing…………….. As a thought…. total fuck ups — crashing hardware and people still complaining…… LOL still a bunch of DOPES

    Jay