Interesting piece on Techcrunch today about PhotoBucket - a hosting and publishing service for consumer videos and photos. The have just announced a $10.5 million Series B round with Trinity Ventures, largely on the strength of their 15 million members and their claim to drive drives 2% of total U.S. Internet traffic.
The bigger trend is worth considering. When it comes to consumer generated content - there is an important difference between storage and social connections.
Most social networking sites have basic capabilities in terms of allowing people to upload photos, videos and add blog posts. For now that has been fine - however it is likely that as the space develops consumers will be members of multiple social networks in the same way that internet daters will generally be part of more than one site. Niche groups will deliver specific audiences, and with a growing socially connected population - fragmentation is inevitable in the search for more relevant connections.
And if that is the case, re-uploading all of your material is the very last thing you want to do. The useful part of social networks is the network, not the storage. Not surprisingly, most of these sites also have limitations on the amount of content you can upload and poor tools for managing multimedia content.
To that end - Photobucket is helpful, but is also not ideal. In many ways Flickr still has the easiest photo management system, but is not ideally structured as a hosting platform for other networks. You can also bet that the growing number of hosted storage players like Omnidrive and Box.net will also start developing applications for consumers to store and publish their content online.
Longer term - there needs to be a seamless integration between a home based content server (to which users will upload high resolution versions of their multimedia material) and a network based publishing platform (which stores lower resolution copies, ready for publishing). Meta data, ratings, and tags acquired once material has been published could then be synched with the home database at a later date.
So much for the end of home slide nights. User generated vanity is just about to begin.