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How Aviary came back from the brink to power photo filters for Twitter and Flickr

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2011, the company made a hard choice to abandon its original game plan. It would become a business-to-business firm, powering the photo editing features of other consumer facing companies. And it would focus on mobile, rather than the web, moving off the Flash platform in its mobile SDK. "It was a hard decision because we had some traction and $11M in funding," says Muchnick. "So to make a big change to our roadmap, there was a lot of convincing that had to take place, to get the board behind this idea of starting over on mobile."

The bet has payed off massively. Aviary launched its mobile SDK in September of 2011 with 30 partners. It now has more than 2,500 companies that rely on its technology to power their photo editing. Its work can be found in some of the biggest mobile photo apps: Flickr's and Twitter's filters being the most well known. "The difference is massive," says Aviary founder Avi Munchnick. "When we were web only, during a big day, we might have 100,000 people edit photos. This year, more than 15 million people used our tools on Thanksgiving."

The way he says 15 million makes me think it's the all time high. Almost all on mobile. Amazing.

They also provide tools for Imgur, Box, and Minus.

But mobile is what made them huge.

Fascinating that the photo editing capabilities of Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr are so bad. Hasn't hurt their popularity at all.