Snappy Designs Ltd, which owns the image-sharing website Fotopic.net, is heading for liquidation, director Stephen Dyer has confirmed.
Dyer was forced to issue a public statement after Amateur Photographer (AP) tracked down the Fotopic.net boss earlier today.
The Fotopic.net website holds hundreds of thousands of images that users have not been able to access for weeks.
Estimates of the number of pictures missing vary wildly.
A source has suggested to AP that Fotopic.net holds up to two million images and had thousands of active users at a given time.
One user, who did not wish to be named, said he held 33,000 images at Fotopic.net and knew of others who had stored up to 100,000 pictures there.
Though some gallery accounts were free to use, Fotopic.net charged a subscription fee for the use of some features of around £50 a year.
In a statement issued on behalf of Snappy Designs Ltd, Dyer told AP: ‘The company has ceased trading due to an unexpected, significant decrease in revenue and I apologise that our efforts to recover from this have not been successful.’
The news will end speculation that the website had merely suffered a temporary technical problem with its server.
Snappy Designs Ltd has appointed Jeremy Bleazard of XL Business Solutions, based in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire as liquidator.
Dyer claims that photographers will be able to access their material ‘in the near future’ if the liquidator manages to sell the business.
Whether Fotopic.net customers will see their images again is far from guaranteed, however.
Even if the business is sold, the website that hosts Fotopic.net would have to agree to the transfer of images, said Bleazard in an interview with AP.
Bleazard said he has yet to speak to the third party ‘web hoster’ and was not able to confirm their name to AP when asked.
Bleazard estimates that Fotopic.net holds around 30,000 pictures, though he was not able to confirm this figure, nor the total number of customers.
Among the victims is Richard Hall who said he paid Fotopic.net £90 for a ‘Premier Service’ and renewed his subscription only recently.
Hall paid £45 a year for extra features offered by the service.
The site also enabled photographers to sell their pictures or buy extra memory to store digital files, for example.
‘It’s not a lot of money but a lot of time was taken, on an ongoing basis, editing, uploading and captioning photos… All this now appears lost,’ said the photography enthusiast.
He added: ‘Some people used the site for business purposes. They must have been really hit by all of this.’
Fotopic.net is reported to have had its origins in a website dating back to 1999.