PicMonkey: Giving customers more value with Google Cloud Platform

About PicMonkey

PicMonkey empowers users to create stunning photos, logos, social media graphics, and Facebook covers with PicMonkey’s easy yet powerful photo editing and graphic design software.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

By moving to Google Cloud Platform, PicMonkey enables truly agile development, improving time to market for new features by 3x and helping to grow subscriptions and revenue.

Google Cloud Results

  • Enables PicMonkey to release multiple features daily
  • Makes new features possible, such as auto-saving customers’ changes in real time
  • Helps grow subscriptions and revenue by enabling better customer analytics and multivariate testing
  • Provides scalable storage for millions of user images

Improves time to market 3x for new software features

The use of rich imagery has always enhanced communication, but in an age where people are constantly besieged with text, a picture may be worth well over 1,000 words. PicMonkey creates tools to make visual communication easier, allowing people to do everything from touching up photos to designing and managing a business’ entire brand image. Offering an online photo editor and design maker as well as a native mobile app for iOS and Android, PicMonkey empowers everyday people, without an art degree, to create dazzling images.

As PicMonkey prepared to launch a major new release of its software, the company wanted a cloud services provider that would allow it to offer compelling new features and improve time to market without expanding its small development team. Although PicMonkey already had a footprint in public cloud, it sought a cloud provider that could offer turnkey services with minimal management requirements to help the company move toward continuous delivery.

“The first thing we noticed about Google Cloud Platform was how it abstracts away the complexities and allows us to focus on code. It lets us be truly agile in our development in ways that were difficult with our previous cloud provider, improving time to market for new features by 3x.”

Andrew Coldham, CTO, PicMonkey

PicMonkey decided to test the capabilities of Google Cloud Platform (GCP). It used App Engine and Cloud Datastore to build a smart photo storage platform called Hub that enables people to save their projects in the cloud as well as edit text and overlays after saving their images. The project required an engineering team of just two people, and was so easy and well received that PicMonkey decided to move most of its infrastructure and data, including millions of user images, to GCP.

“The first thing we noticed about Google Cloud Platform was how it abstracts away the complexities and allows us to focus on code,” says Andrew Coldham, Chief Technology Officer at PicMonkey. “It lets us be truly agile in our development in ways that were difficult with our previous cloud provider, improving time to market for new features by 3x.”

Offering new features faster

A new PicMonkey built on GCP is now in beta, offering customers more performance and flexibility with new features such as intelligent resizing. Some of the most compelling new capabilities, such as an auto-save feature that stores customers’ designs automatically in the background, would have been difficult to offer without GCP managed services and the low latency of the global Google network. People can now create and render documents in the cloud, allowing mobile users to complete complex workflows on the go. Graphics processing units (GPUs) on Kubernetes Engine provide fast rendering times.

“Google Cloud Platform gives us near-infinite scalability, low latency, and a global reach, helping us provide great customer experiences.”

Andrew Coldham, CTO, PicMonkey

“We used Kubernetes Engine and Cloud Spanner to schedule background tasks and automatically save users’ images in real time as they make changes,” says Andrew. “Google Cloud Platform gives us near-infinite scalability, low latency, and a global reach, helping us provide a great user experience.”

PicMonkey now follows a continuous integration/continuous development model, developing as many as 100 features concurrently and deploying up to 10 new features a day. As its business and data modeling requirements grow, PicMonkey will use Kubernetes Engine and Cloud Spanner to build new services, porting many of the services it created with App Engine to a container-based Kubernetes Engine environment.

“Cloud Spanner is a very reliable, consistent, and low maintenance relational database service,” says Andrew. “We can preserve the complete history of a user’s documents and have a low-latency, high-frequency commit with reliable timestamps.”

Growing subscriptions and revenue

To enhance its customer analytics and digital marketing, PicMonkey used BigQuery and Google Data Studio to build a robust, serverless business intelligence platform. ETL jobs in Kubernetes Engine pull in data from Google Analytics and AdWords, which is sent to BigQuery for analysis. The marketing team can now analyze and visualize customer behavior in near real time, using multivariate testing to determine the most effective approaches to converting subscribers and keeping customers coming back.

“We’re happy with the subscription and revenue growth we are seeing, and data informs all our efforts,” says Andrew. “BigQuery is helping us understand our customers and their journey: when and how they subscribe, which features they adopt, and which features they might enjoy that they haven’t yet discovered.”

Karen Copper, PicMonkey’s Brand Director, is using the new multivariate testing capabilities to replace more laborious and less reliable A/B testing methods.

“We used to try to create artificial situations to figure out which digital experiences perform best, but that’s not very real-world,” she says. “With BigQuery and Data Studio, we can very quickly see which combinations are most successful. That’s been a tremendous improvement in developing a consumer-facing product.”

No looking back

Back in 2012, before PicMonkey had even decided on a name, the startup knew that it would use G Suite apps such as Google Calendar, Docs, and Sheets to keep people connected and productive. Google Drive quickly became PicMonkey’s preferred method of sharing files. Today, employees use Hangouts Meet for face-to-face video, and conference rooms are equipped with Chromebox for Meetings videoconferencing kits. PicMonkey even integrates its own products with G Suite, offering a free Chrome app that works with Google Drive.

“We have inside and outside contributors, and G Suite allows everyone to collaborate easily, seamlessly, and more securely,” says Karen. “At PicMonkey, we use G Suite all day, and we always have. I could never go back to my old ways of working.”

“Our previous cloud provider gave us raw tools and not much more. With Google Cloud Platform, we get robust managed services that help us solve real-world problems and exceed our customers’ expectations.”

Andrew Coldham, CTO, PicMonkey

Exceeding customer expectations

By leaving the data center management and maintenance to Google, PicMonkey can move faster and maintain its focus on helping "everyday creatives" bring their visual ideas to life.

“Customers expect us to offer superior functionality and performance, and to make new features available quickly,” says Andrew. “Our previous cloud provider gave us raw tools and not much more. With Google Cloud Platform, we get robust managed services that help us solve real-world problems and exceed our customers’ expectations.”

About PicMonkey

PicMonkey empowers users to create stunning photos, logos, social media graphics, and Facebook covers with PicMonkey’s easy yet powerful photo editing and graphic design software.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States
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12 Months FREE TRIAL

Try Kubernetes Engine, BigQuery, and other Cloud Platform products with $300 in free credit and 12 months.

TRY IT FREE