According to the New York Times, Getty Images is putting itself for sale. Contrary to the nay sayers of this industry, it is no sign of a failure, but rather a clear indication that the owners have decided to cash in and leave. It seems that Mark Getty, and the board, have decided that even by replacing Johnathan Klein as CEO, they would not succeed in achieving more aggressive growth. As written here a while back, they have hit a ceiling and know it.
It would have cost them too much money and effort to go after the mid size and niche agencies that are left in the market. With a company so huge and drowned in perpetual audits, due to its public nature, it is extremely challenging to compete with small, lean, agile companies.
But, it is not because a company is for sale that one, it will find buyers, two, it will disappear. This is not the end of Getty images, so those that rejoice, or those that predict the apocalypse of this industry should tone down and listen. At $850 million a year, Getty Image has proven that this industry has a huge potential. And for a company that started with $30 million, $1,5 Billion is not that bad. In other words, I fail to see where is the failure.
Where does that leave us for the future? not very far. It is even quite possible that the new owners, if ever found, keep the same management team in place. Istockphoto will NOT raise it prices to $300 an image and the web $49 pricing will remain until everyone is forced to follow and comply. In other words, it is not an industry changing event. It is a prophecy being executed. Two guys, Mark and Johnathan, one day, decided to make lots of money. They started Getty Images and now are selling it.
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Photo : Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press. Used with permission.