Thank you, 32 million times over: Celebrating Darkroom’s Third Birthday
Three years ago to the day, Matt Brown and I launched the first version of Darkroom. Thank you to all the photographers who have been relying on Darkroom week-in-week-out to edit their photos on the go, and a special thank you to those who have stuck with us through the years. Without your continued support and encouragement, it is not at all clear that we would be here to write this post.
2017 was a very exciting year for us. The marquee launch of Darkroom 3 got a lot of attention and praise. What went unnoticed however, was a massive effort to understand the key metrics of our business, tuning them, and trying to make Darkroom a profitable business so we can survive and thrive. That work has manifested itself in our bottom line in a big way. If you would allow me this moment of vanity:
- In 2017, we were finally able to pay ourselves reasonable salaries, and STILL make a profit! That means we can dedicate 100% of our time on Darkroom, rather than having to split it contracting or stressing out about money.
- We increased our weekly-active-photographer metric by 80% and our download rate by 50% compared to 2016, all of which translated to…..wait for it:
- More than one million photos shared every single month! — And a Darkroom session is started somewhere around the world every single second. Since launch, nearly 32 million photos have been exported from Darkroom.
- We increased our average App Store rating to a whopping 4.8 stars, with thousands of reviews, and more coming every day.
I mean, look at this graph of our Weekly-Active-Photographers:
Zooming out and looking at our data since launch, what’s remarkable is that soon we will average the same number of users every week that we had during our initial launch, during which we were the most prominently featured app on the App Store for a whole week! Even more incredible? Almost half of the peope who try Darkroom every month use it every week.
If you’re in the business of making apps, you’ll know that among the most successful apps on the store, our numbers aren’t ground-breaking. We have a massive head-way ahead of us to grow. Truth be told, had we raised venture capital (which we almost did, multiple times), we could have built out our feature roadmap much much earlier than we did. However, it would have left us with a ticking time bomb on our back to liquidate or hit escape velocity.
We believe very strongly that we can and are in an amazing position to establish ourselves as the premiere photo editing app on iOS, and for our loyal user-base, we already are. But in order to do that, we need to be free from external forces that put pressure on us to prioritize what’s good for their bottom line, rather than what’s good for the collective bottom line of our users.
Starting a company is hard, there’s no going around that fact. Yet we times get tough, we remind each other: If we don’t push through and succeed, we’ll have to revert to using something else to edit our photos, and that’s not a world we want to live in, and it’s not an option we’re willing to force on our users.
Because we are bootstrapped and independent, we have one focus and one focus only: Maintain Darkroom’s seemingly-paradoxical position as the most powerful, yet easiest, fastest, and pleasurable photo editing app on iOS.
And boy oh boy are we excited about the next few months… The Darkroom Team