It is a bittersweet day for the folks behind Familiar.
The Seattle startup, which built the “21st century photo frame,” today announced that it has been acquired by Taser International. The Familiar team will work under Taser’s business unit Evidence.com and focus on development initiatives for mobility technologies in law enforcement.
The popular Familiar app will shut down as part of the deal. Co-founder and CEO Marcus Womack said he has mixed feelings about saying goodbye to Familiar.
“Familiar has been instrumental for helping many families stay connected,” he said. “The future of the Familiar service is still a bit hazy. The team will not continue to operate the service and is excited to close this chapter and get started working with the amazing team of engineers at Evidence.com. We feel great that the core components of our product will be integrated into the future products we develop for the Evidence.com platform.”
Evidence.com helps police capture, manage, and share their digital evidence with the Axon On-officer camera line and software in the cloud. The Familiar team will use its technologies to help Evidence.com build secure and private next-generation mobile technologies and cloud infrastructure for law enforcement and first responders.
Familiar founders Womack, Josh Hepfer, Mike Bohlander and Ray Fortna were core members of the team at iLike, the Seattle online social music service that sold to MySpace in 2009. They started Familiar nearly two years ago as a way to turn your computer into a “social picture frame,” pulling photos from groups of people to create a digital slideshow on a friend or family member’s computer, tablet or phone. This made sharing pictures among families easy, resolving the problem of emailing or texting photos or uploading them to a photo-sharing site.
The startup enjoyed instant success, displaying 200 million photos on the service in just one year. In September 2012, Familiar raised a $1.3 million round from Greylock Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Index Ventures, Acequia Capital, Allen & Company and angel investors Ali and Hadi Partovi.
But despite garnering more than 500,000 installs and displaying more than 100 million photos and videos per month, the company did not achieve the customer growth goals it had set out for.
“When the Taser opportunity presented itself, we had to do some soul searching as a company,” Womack said. “The alignment between our technology and our excitement about their long term vision of creating wearable, cloud-connected devices for law enforcement really excited us. It’s a unique opportunity to change the world and we knew it was the right move for us and our technology.”
Hadi Partovi, who was also an advisor to Familiar, made the initial introduction to Taser. Partovi also sits on the board of Taser.
Here’s a video showing what Evidence.com does: