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The new photo organizer ThisLife creates a common spot for families to store photos

There’s no shortage of places to store your digital photos, from Facebook to Flickr to Instagram to Google’s Picassa to Photobucket to a computer’s hard drive. And that’s exactly the problem that ThisLife — a Palo Alto, California upstart that’s announcing $2.75 million in funding today in a deal led by Madrona Venture Group — is trying to solve.

ThisLife co-founder and CEO Andrea Johnson said that her own photo collection was a “mess,” with images spread between mobile phones, computers and sites like Instagram and Facebook.

“ThisLife takes all the pain out of managing your life’s memories,” said Johnson, adding that it automatically uploads photos and videos to a common place where family members can access them. Features also include automated facial recognition for easy tagging; duplicate image detection and the ability for family members to create a common account so photos can be pooled. (Interesting side note that just gobbled up facial recognition upstart

ThisLife has a free offering in which users can store 1,000 photos and one hour video. The advanced plan allows storage of 20,000 photos or 10 hours of video for $7.99 per month, while a family plan allows 50,000 photos or 25 hours of video for $149.99 for the year.

Greg Gottesman

I asked Madrona’s Greg Gottesman how ThisLife will compete in a world dominated by much bigger — and better capitalized — companies. The venture capitalist said that ThisLife solves a much different problem.

“ThisLife isn’t about sharing with thousands of people I barely know on Facebook or publishing to the world on Instagram or the latest app—it’s about being able to easily find and store that incredible picture of my wife holding my oldest son at birth or the video of my daughter finishing third at her school’s long jump and making sure I have those at my fingertips wherever I am and whenever I want.  I can then share those memories if I choose to or not,” he said.

The deal is a bit of an unusual one for Madrona, the Seattle venture capital firm that just closed its fifth fund at $300 million. (The investment in ThisLife was not made out of the new fund).

Over the years, Madrona has stayed pretty consistent with its Pacific Northwest focus, bankrolling companies with roots in Portland, Seattle and B.C. The investment in ThisLife marks one of the firm’s first investments in the Valley, though Madrona also has backed companies such as Jambool (dual operations between San Fran and Seattle) and Animoto (Founded by former Seattleites with operations split between New York and San Francisco).

The latest bet does not indicate a change from that strategy, and Madrona’s Matt McIlwain was adamant in an interview with GeekWire earlier this month that they believe there’s great opportunity to invest upwards of 85 percent of the new fund in the Northwest.

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