A lot faster than predicted, Digital Railroad is dead. We posted about the impending demise earlier, so this comes as little surprise. Yesterday the NPPA posted a frantic note advising all members to immediately backup their Digital Railroad archive and transfer it to Photoshelter. John Harrington saw this coming, but estimated a little more time for the shoe to drop. It seems like lightboxes are still working, and over at lightstalkers, a few people have posted about having just recently made their annual payment. Neal Jackson, posting a reply, suggested contacting one’s credit card company to stop the payment and the New York Attorney General and other relevant authorities to seek a refund. There’s also a quite bit of animosity out there against Digital Railroad, mostly due to the speed of the shutdown and the absolute lack of communication from Digital Railroad or its liquidation management company Diablo Management Group. What was once considered a bullet-proof online backup system has gone up in smoke and has left a lot of people hanging. The Digital Railroad homepage has been replaced with a note that vaguely explains the current situation, quoted below:
October 28, 2008
To our valued Members and Partners:
We deeply regret to inform you that Digital Railroad (DRR) has shut down.
On October 15th we reported that the company had reduced its staff and was aggressively pursuing additional financing and/or a strategic partner. Unfortunately, those efforts were unsuccessful. Therefore Digital Railroad has been forced to close all operations.
Digital Railroad has attracted a loyal set of customers and partners, and we regret this unfortunate outcome. Without sufficient long-term financial support, the business had become unsustainable.
Thank you for allowing us to serve the photographic community these past few years.
All questions pertaining to claims should be addressed to:
Digital Railroad, Inc
c/o Diablo Management Group
1452 N. Vasco Road, #301
Livermore, CA 94551″
UPDATE (by Matt on 10/29): Vincent Laforet posts a scathing indictment of the DRR bubbleburst on his blog, and says something many of us are thinking. It is insane that DRR, or its liquidators, did not fulfill the basic step of letting people get their work back. When I signed up with Photoshelter at the very start in the summer of 2005 I never once considered using it as a critical storage site, just another place to backup selects. I worried what would happen if they went under, for whatever reason, and how I or others could get their work back. I didn’t hear of a plan for that at the time. And now we are seeing what happens. Terrifying… best of luck to everyone (lone photographers and all those agencies!) that rely on DRR. Hopefully this strengthens Photoshelter too…
UPDATE 2 (by Matt, 10/29 10:50): Allen Murabayashi over at Photoshelter has laid out a nice but disheartening overview of what is probably happening internally over at DRR. It seems clear that the ‘real’ employees at DRR that people have dealt with in the past are not in control at this point and the rapid shutdown is a money-saving tactic by the liquidation firm. I understand this is how things ‘normally work’ as businesses go under, but damn.