500px (pronounced "five hundred px") is a Canadian online community and marketplace based on photography, co-founded by Oleg Gutsol and Evgeny Tchebotarev (artistically also known as “Ian Sobolev”) on Halloween 2009. The Toronto-based startup launched its Web 2.0 version in 2009 and is aimed at aspiring and professional photographers; encouraging members to upload their best work. In August 2015, the company launched a new version of its iOS app.
500px is seen as a place to gain exposure, find inspiration and connect photographers with one another. As of January 2016, the site had 7 million users.
Evgeny Tchebotarev began 500px in 2003 within the social blogging website LiveJournal, working on it as a hobby whilst he completed a business degree at Ryerson University. Back then, 500px was considered a good size for web display and was therefore the limit placed on photos submitted to the community for review. Once photographers submitted their photos they were moderated and only those of a high quality would make it past the community’s curators and be published onto the site.
Tchebotarev joined forces with Oleg Gutsol and in early 2009 they began work on the mostly automated incarnation of 500px. Image size grew to 900 pixels but the name remained. The two relaunched the site on October 31, 2009. In February 2012 the site got another update with features called "flow", "stories", and "market".
In 2009, the site had 1000 users, purely through word of mouth. By late November 2012, the site had more than 1,500,000 users.
500px was named one of the best blogs of 2012, by Time magazine.
In July 2015, the company raised $13 million in Series B funding led by a strategic investor, the Visual China Group, and included participation from existing backers of the company.
In September 2015, Google announced that 500px is one of the first external Chromecast photography partners. It will allow more than 20 million Chromecast users to view and display a curated collection of 500px photos on their HD TVs. They can discover the photographers who took them via the attribution links.
In April 2016, 500px announced the launch of verified accounts for brands today. Red Bull Media House will be the first brand to participate, and will be able to share its wholly owned photography on the platform.
500px has an algorithm in place to allow recently uploaded photos of a high standard to be displayed at the forefront of the site. Views, likes and favourites all contribute to a photo’s rating or ‘Pulse’. The higher the Pulse the more likely it is to get to the Popular page and the higher the chance it has of being seen by other users. The algorithm allows all users, not just those with a following, to have a chance to get their work to the front page of the Popular photos, increasing exposure. The mathematical equations in place also take into account the freshness of an image with Likes and Favorites counting for fewer points as they build up and the Pulse gradually decreasing with updates. This results in the Popular page always displaying fresh content and motivates users to regularly upload new images. Each user also has an overall rating titled ‘Affection’. Taking into account the likes and favourites they have received across all photos, it is a reliable indication of how popular a photographer is within the community.
Apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 were also made for the site.
On April 12, 2012 500px's Terms of Service rose to the top of popular site Hacker News, garnering attention for displaying full-on lawyer speak on the left-hand side of the page and summing up the legalese into basic points on the right-hand side. The resulting discussion on the Terms was mixed, with positive feedback such as ‘awesome’ and ‘one of the cleanest in the industry’ alongside negative feedback that believes 500px may have put themselves at undue risk.
On January 21, 2013, Apple removed 500px's iPad app from its store, citing concerns of nudity available via the app. Apple restored the app on January 29, following the release of a new version with a "Mature 17+ rating" and a report button.