Canon Europe snaps up Fotango

Fotango, the online photo specialist, has been sold to Canon Europe for an undisclosed price. The company launched its UK website in June 2000 following a GBP4 million investment in May from a consortium of European venture capitalists. Arts Alliance, the transatlantic specialist investor and Wellington Partners, the German high-tech VC each committed GBP1.6 million and NorthZone partners, the Scandinavian firm previously known as Venture Partners, invested the remainder. The investors held a minority position in the company. No financial details of the sale were disclosed.

Bart Markus, a partner at Wellington says: “We are pleased that our portfolio company has been able to establish itself so well on the European market within only two years, thus making it an attractive partner for a company like Canon.”

Based in London, Fotango was founded in 1999 by a management team whose experience includes digital printing, international finance, retail and photo library services. The company provides an Internet-based service, which allows customers to share online photos, organise them in digital albums and order prints. Standard films are sent to Fotango, which notifies the customer by email when the prints are accessible online. The owners of digital cameras can upload image data directly to the website and receive prints through the post.

Having successfully established this service in the UK, Fotango also set up websites in France and Germany. In addition it offers services to professional photographers and for corporate events. Acting as an ASP (application service provider), in November 2000 the company formed a strategic partnership with WHSmith to offer its service in stores and on the WHSmith website.

Canon Europe, a subsidiary of the Japanese photographic company, acquired Fotango to progress its development strategy for e-business. According to Lyra Research the online photo digitisation industry in Europe is expected to total $3.4 billion by 2004. Hajime Tsuruoka, CEO of Canon Europe, said: “This acquisition will enable the further integration of specialist technologies into the Canon portfolio. With Fotango’s grounding as an application service provider (ASP), it will also form the basis on which Canon Europe can build its future e-business development.”