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Fotopedia's Mission is to "Help People Discover Beauty in the World"

From their offices in Paris and San Francisco, Fotopedia’s 16-person team produces what is often referred to as a photo encyclopedia.

But it’s really more than that -- a mobile platform for immersive visual story telling on iOS apps built around themes, especially places.

Its eleventh and latest app, featuring thousands of photographs of Morocco, has just been released. 

“Our mission is to help people discover beauty in the world,” says CMO Christophe Daligault. “The first word I usually hear when I load the app and show somebody is ‘Wow!’"

The four-year-old company is led by a team of execs, including CEO Jean-Marie Hullot, who formerly worked at Apple. Hullot was CTO of the apps division in Cupertino, and worked closely with Steve Jobs for some 20 years.

Originally, the team envisioned a kind of Wikipedia for photos, but as the iPhone/iPad era has progressed, enabling much higher resolution photo display, the company’s content has evolved to include high-quality images only.

“We are like the opposite of Flickr or Instagram, in that we are very selective,” explains Daligault. “We accept only the very best of the very best of the photos.

“People spend a lot of time in our apps and look at a lot of images. They can add comments, share them, save them, assemble them as part of an itinerary.”

Besides the apps, Fotopedia is available on the web and on Flipboard.

Although it would be tempting to group Fotopedia with the travel guides, that fit isn’t quite right, either.

“We don't do Top Ten This or Top Three That,” says Daligault. “We don't tell you where to go.

“Instead we offer an opportunity to dive deep into the body of images and see for yourself what you like. So we are a counterpoint to Lonely Planet or Frommer's. Not a travel guide.”

Fotopedia most definitely is a media company. It pushes out “Visual Stories” several times a week, which update (for example) its content about Paris.

These stories, which reach users on their iPhones via push notifications, might focus on museums, or the roofs, cemeteries, or the “hidden Paris,” any aspect that allows for a new collection of high-res photos.

A three-person team on staff handles the curation of these photos.

Fotopedia’s audience is global, in 120 countries and seven languages. Unlike many Western Internet companies, it has a huge presence in China, where interest in the iPhone and iPad is exploding.

“Our top two markets go back and forth between China and the U.S.,” says Daligault. “A generation of people who were not really exposed to the web have vaulted over it to experience discovery on mobile devices.”

The company passed the twelve-million-download milestone last month.

Fotopedia is developing a nuanced business model, including a sponsored content program. An example of this is how Tokyo’s largest airport, Narita, sponsored the Japan app, as a way to encourage people all over the world to visit the country.