Following the announcement that Amazon will imminently close DPReview, plenty of figures have weighed in about the devastating loss – including, now, DPReview‘s founder, Phil Askey.
Askey sold DPReview to Amazon in 2007, a month before the first iPhone was released and the onset of the global financial crisis. For Askey it’s probably one of the perfect moments to have sold up, and inopportune for Amazon, which may have reconsidered the purchase had it gazed into a crystal ball to foresee how the next 15 years would play out. The photo industry has since experienced an almost continuous downward spiral, and Amazon now seems to no longer view DPReview as worth keeping alive.
This is a much different tune to Amazon’s gushing of DPReview back in the mid noughties when it acquired the publication from Askey.
‘Dpreview.com is by far the most authoritative source anywhere for straight talk about new digital cameras,’ said billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, in the 2007 press release. ‘We at Amazon.com have been their fans for a long time, and we extend a big welcome to the dpreview.com team.’
It’s unknown how much Amazon paid for DPReview, but it’s most likely several million US dollars.
Enough to make a big difference to the life of Askey, whose Instagram bio states he’s ‘now travelling and eating around the world with love’. And rightly so – DPReview is, after all, an unrivalled resource. And Amazon not only maintained DPReview, but poured further resources in to make it better.
Askey left DPReview in 2010. To celebrate DPReview‘s 20th anniversary in 2018, Askey remarked that he’d been approached about acquisitions before but Amazon brought the best deal to the table.
‘Amazon simply emailed me and a long, long conversation began, it wasn’t the first M&A approach we’d had but it was the most attractive, in terms of Amazon’s track record of helping sites at that tipping point (and we were definitely there) to grow without spoiling them,’ he said. ‘Amazon was by far the best fit for DPReview and we knew their assurances about editorial neutrality and supportive site development were invaluable to growing the site.’
How things can change in just a few years.
When DPReview announced the forthcoming closure on March 22, with the site to become inactive from April 10 and completely shut down shortly after, Askey wrote on Twitter that he was ‘obviously devastated to hear this news which has come as a complete shock. I’m a little lost for words at this point.’
He’s now written a short LinkedIn post asking Amazon’s CEO, Andy Jassy, to reconsider this knee jerk reaction.
‘DPReview has 8,800 news articles, 1,300 reviews (including 180+ video reviews), 160 opinion pieces, 160 interviews, 1,700+ sample galleries almost all created by DPReview staff stretching back to 1998.
From the community, easily the most active and passionate in any category there are over 47 million forum posts and the challenges system has over 1.1 million photographs.
It is the number one result for any photography related search (and has been for almost its entire life).
I truly hope that Andy Jassy can see what a waste tearing this team apart and burning all this content will be, and what a huge loss it would be to the photography community and the Internet as a whole.’
So far there is no indication that Amazon is interested in selling the publication or keeping the archive alive. The company hasn’t released a statement, with only DPReview breaking the news. And while Askey has every right to criticise the decision made by Amazon, when considering the sale he’d have to have known that giant corporations aren’t afraid to carelessly gut operations like this.