Shutterfly Buys School Photo Company Lifetouch for $825 Million

When I read this headline, I did a double take. Wait, Lifetouch is still a thing? It sold for almost a billion dollars to who? That print company? 

Lifetouch has been the butt of photography jokes for years now. I honestly thought they had gone out of business decades ago for taking those embarrassing pictures of awkward kids on the speckled blue backgrounds, but I was wrong. Not only is Lifetouch still around, they are killing it. They shoot an average of 25 million children every year, and last year Lifetouch grossed $963.9 million dollars. 

Shutterfly, the company that will print a picture of your dog on a coffee mug, also seems to be doing pretty well for themselves. This printing company is grossing over $2 billion every year and profiting around $400 million.

Shutterfly has purchased Lifetouch for $825 million and will finance the deal with a term loan. They hope to generate at least $450 million within the next two years. 

What's next? Is Kodak going to get into the cryptocurrency game? Oh...

Log in or register to post comments
Ricky Perrone's picture

Insane. Their profitability probably went through the roof when everything moved to digital. But grossing nearly 1bn on school portraits?

Benton Lam's picture

"They shoot an average of 25 million children every year..."

Sorry, my warped mind let out a chuckle for that one.

Gabrielle Colton's picture


Gabrielle Colton's picture

Do you have a printer Bob? I recently got a cheap photo printer and it's not too bad but ink is too expensive

Mark Matthews's picture

Maybe because I've been in this industry for over 30 years, but I am SHOCKED how a large percentage of the industry doesn't understand this side of the photo industry. It's a very successful and lucrative business..... Most of my predecessors retired rich from this large niche of the industry.

Hans Rosemond's picture

The printer industry went the way of the disposable razor. Sell the printer for cheap and kill em on the ink. Disposable razors are the biggest racket out there.

Deleted Account's picture

Not only is Lifetouch a school portrait company but they also own an operate a ton of chain family portrait studios that rake in a ton of business. I used to work at one... not my most favorite job

Eric Snyder's picture

yes, JC Pennys

Deleted Account's picture

Not only JC Penny but in my area they owned a number of different studio chains each marketed at a different segment. JCP was a more low end studio while the one I worked at, promoted what corporate called a "Spa" experience for it's customers. The end game for my studio chain was to sell more high end framed prints and we occasionally did on location shoots in families homes.

Gabrielle Colton's picture

Love the cover image LOL byeeee lifetouch. I wonder if it will change at all

Tom Curley's picture

Lee, Really?

stir photos's picture

i can see it... some of the teacher's assistants at my son's school use shutterfly as a medium to stay in touch with parents. other's at other schools use shutterfly the same way from what i hear from other parents whose kids go to other schools. could be a stock watch; maybe some new products from them...

Scott Lewis's picture

Some key points totally missed here but done well by the Star Tribune. Life-touch had a $3.9m operating LOSS last year which, considering their revenue and longevity, speaks to some major and likely long-term problems to not turn a profit at this scale. Although they seem to do well funding their ESOP.

What does "they hope to generate $450m within the first two years" mean? Generate profit? Revenue? If, and I doubt this is the case, the company no longer contributes to the employees retirement that's half of this $450m. Fascinating that they foresee the ability to generate another $200m+ in profit over two years from a company that lost nearly $4m last year while also dropping funding from their retirement plan, which is unlikely, which begs the question how they're going to generate so much profit from a business that's losing money.

Anonymous's picture

Whooaaaaa !

dustin janke's picture

I thought earning money on school portraits is deep in the past already. Who would steel pay for the photo portraits when everyone has camera in their smartphones.