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Messages - Jo Ann Snover

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1
I think the problem is that you can't really predict the future with any useful degree of accuracy. Given that, spreading the risk around makes a lot of sense.

I was an exclusive at IS (mostly for photos, but some illustrations) but too far ago to be relevant to your choice. When they were the #1 microstock agency and progress (2004 to 2008) was strong, it looked like the risk was worth taking. Between mid-2008 and mid-2011 a lot of things changed and I saw what I interpreted to be the writing on the wall and decided that the risks were too great and I'd do better to return to diversification before things hit bottom.

The overall financial health of an agency is relevant to you, in addition to the money you're making. If you later decide to leave, you aren't able to pick up where you left off - there's always a step back before things pick up.

I have a hard time imagining why it would make sense for anyone with an existing portfolio that has demonstrated its sales ability to go exclusive with iStock. YMMV

2
General Stock Discussion / Re: The Getty debt
« on: March 19, 2019, 08:48 »
It's popular to make successful companies look like they are in debt, because it can then be used as a tax writeoff.

If indeed this is true (haven't read the article or investigated it) - then I'd say there is some creative accounting going on. Legitimate - but creative - to make it look like a liability when in fact it is profitable.

The debt is real and is the legacy of the mangling Getty suffered at the hands of two private equity companies, Hellman & Friedman and then Carlyle. Both of those companies couldn't sell Getty at a profit so they paid themselves via adding debt - dividend recapitalization.

The reason both of these private equity firms were very bad news for contributors is that it reduced/eliminated most of the money for growing the business or paying suppliers a fair royalty. Private equity firms don't care about the long term health of a business, only getting their return and getting out.

You can read more about both of these acquisitions in old posts here. It takes big companies a long time to fail unless they're hemorrhaging cash; the problem is, with lots of debt to service, you have very little flexibility.

In February they sought to raise $400m new debt to pay off some old and Moody's rated it lower than Getty's overall rating because of the risks:

https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-assigns-Caa2-rating-to-Getty-Images-new-senior-unsecured--PR_394938

"...reflects its high pro forma leverage ...following the planned debt refinancing and recapitalization, low-single digit free cash flow to adjusted debt ratio and still early transformation from legacy products to high volume enterprise subscription and high margin Royalty-Free products. It also considers clients' changing demand for stock imagery, which has shifted to non-exclusive lower-priced products and fostered aggressive competition. There is financial risk associated with the proposed issuance of a rapidly accreting payment-in-kind (PIK) preferred equity instrument that expands to roughly $700 million principal balance three years after closing from $500 million initially, which we believe could lead to volatile leverage metrics if refinanced with debt in the future."

The above followed a rating for $1.55 billion new debt in January.

https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-upgrades-Getty-Images-CFR-to-B3-from-Caa1-assigns--PR_391551

There is apparently some optimism - they've removed Getty from a credit watch status - among some of the finance folks based on the recent debt juggling

https://www.ademcetinkaya.com/2019/02/getty-images-inc-upgraded-to-b-from-ccc.html

You'll note in that last article a comment that risks include "...inability to realize expected cost savings, greater price-based competition, or insufficient demand for its subscription offerings" I don't know if those subscriptions are something other than iStock - Thinkstock is still supposedly retiring in "mid 2019" according to its web site.

3
Shutterstock.com / New SS exec - Co-COO
« on: March 18, 2019, 19:01 »
I missed this from last week:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/shutterstock-announces-stan-pavlovsky-to-join-as-co-chief-operating-officer-300811868.html

This is his LinkedIn page and Twitter account (doesn't appear to be active there)

https://www.linkedin.com/in/stan-pavlovsky-ab26181/

https://twitter.com/spavlovsky?lang=en

Not quite sure if this signals any shift in how SS as a business sees itself.

Why did they set April 1 as his start day? :)

4
Dreamstime tried it and I don't think it worked well for them. It's always hard to tell which of many changes might have turned the former #3 agency into a footnote, but complex and confusing pricing certainly played a part, IMO

Fotolia had a worse model in that it allowed top selling artists to increase prices on their entire portfolio, including stuff that didn't sell. After a while they introduced a new rule that if it didn't sell over a certain period its price was set back to the basic level.

The problem with all of this is buyer confusion or alienation - for example, lightboxing images which then aren't the same price when they later come back to buy it. As a seller, if your high price image stops selling as buyers find alternatives, then you're not any better off either.

Microstock is a volume business. If you have something really unusual, it probably should be on microstock sites in the first place.

5
Dreamstime.com / Re: Megapixl.com by Dreamstime
« on: March 16, 2019, 17:31 »
I know nothing about Megapixl but my images appear not to be there. I did searches for some of mine (comparing with a Dreamstime search in another tab, you can see that only a fraction of the DT collection is at Megapixl)

Apparently three years ago I found out about them from a post here and contacted DT to ask what was up. If you read their reply, I guess what I wrote just now means my view of things hasn't changed in three years :)

My rant about Megapixl written before I did a search to see how long they'd been around, etc.:

"I had opted out of third party partnerships - because I don't want to share buyer money with multiple agencies - which I have to assume is why my work isn't there. However Megapixl isn't a third party - it's Dreamstime itself.

DT's sales are so pitiful it probably doesn't matter either way, but wholly-owned sites are not the same as third party partnerships and shouldn't be governed by opt-out choices made for third parties. Does anyone else remember when 123rf tried to claim that Inmagine was a third party and that entitled them to an extra share of the buyer payment? They backed down after everyone fussed, but does anyone know if DT is taking a partnership cut from the buyer's price when there's a sale on Megapixl? You have to hope that this scammery wouldn't happen twice, but if there's no marking "

A mind is a terrible thing to waste :)

6
Shutterstock.com / Re: Shutterstock payment delay?
« on: March 14, 2019, 15:38 »
*, you'll get your money, alway did and alway will. Just wait.

Edited to add that the quote above is not what was originally written. It's interesting that updating the post updates the quote now - it used not to. I think I may stop using the quote feature when rude messages are the topic - it makes a complete nonsense of my comment that editing the rudeness edits the quoting as well.


That's rude and inaccurate - great combination.

I've not had this happen to me, but other people have had payment mistakes from Shutterstock in the past and IMO the OP did exactly the right thing.

Checked his settings; asked if others using the same payment method had already received their payments and contacted SS directly.

There is no reason to even comment here if you have nothing constructive to contribute

7
Shutterstock.com / Re: Shutterstock payment delay?
« on: March 13, 2019, 14:32 »
I was paid on March 6th as well -  via PayPal. Probably time to contact Shutterstock to ask about this if you haven't received yours

8
General Stock Discussion / Re: Wemark hows it going
« on: March 12, 2019, 07:57 »
If you look at this other thread (started when they said they were now live), another contributor suggested someone post if they got sales - and got their money in a usable currency. There's been nothing so far

https://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/wemark-is-live!-(get-10-free-images)/msg526846/#msg526846

You'd do better to spend your time uploading to the major sites if you want to earn money, not to new sites with few/no buyers.

10
Did you report this to SS?

11
There's an overview in the Q4 earnings call transcript. 66% of total revenue is from outside the US and about half of the non-US revenue is Europe.

https://www.microstockgroup.com/shutterstock-com/q4-2018-earnings-call-transcript/


12
Site Related / Re: Leaf, cant move spam to garbage
« on: March 08, 2019, 14:08 »
ok, how about now.

can you modify your post?
can you give +1 to posts?

Gave you a plus and can edit my posts.

Still no home button at the bottom though :(

13
Shutterstock.com / Re: Account password reset emails - again
« on: March 08, 2019, 14:06 »
Nothing like that came to me - and I just checked my spam folder; nothing there either

14
Site Related / Re: Leaf, cant move spam to garbage
« on: March 07, 2019, 11:32 »
Also, unless I've gone crazy, there used to be a "Home" button at the bottom of just about every page and now it's gone. You have to scroll back to the one up top each time and I really miss the button both ends of the page.

test edit

15
Alamy.com / Re: Longest wait to get paid?
« on: March 06, 2019, 10:42 »
"...really sorry..."

"...calculated at time of invoice ..."

"...industry standard..."

If Alamy were the entire industry, that last one would be true...

Points for promptness and saying sorry, but their business model is broken, IMO. If I hadn't chased them up, twice, it's not even clear to me that I would ever have been credited for this at all.

It's as if being an Alamy customer is a combination insurance policy and lottery scheme - you use the image and may not ever have to pay for it; if you do get caught, Alamy Insurance gives you legal cover that it was a licensed use and the privilege of paying months or years after the image use.

16
Alamy.com / Re: Longest wait to get paid?
« on: March 05, 2019, 20:46 »
...even if just to make them justify themselves and see what they say.

I'll let you know when they reply.

17
Alamy.com / Re: Longest wait to get paid?
« on: March 05, 2019, 20:07 »
So far, 14 months is the longest.

A sale showed up April 2016; in Oct 2016 I contacted support as it hadn't cleared. They said it was a large customer who was typically slow in paying. In Jan 2017 I contacted Alamy again asking about progress. They said they were contacting the customer and had been paid for some of the invoiced amounts, but not all. They said it was their policy not to make any payouts until the entire invoice had been paid.

I finally received money in June 2017. It's clearly to Alamy's advantage to hang on to whatever they can collect and pay nothing to contributors, but it seems like a threadbare excuse to me. Make payouts as you're paid, otherwise one dispute and every other contributor is left with nothing in the interim.

I recently had another go around over an image I found in use (article dated 2 months earlier) that hadn't shown up as a sale. They told me they did have a "relevant download" for the image and would contact the account manager.  After another month I contacted Alamy again; they said they'd chased the account manager. When the sale finally showed up March 2nd, it was at the 40% royalty rate rather than the 50% it would have been had the customer reported the sale promptly. Lord alone knows when I'll get paid.

I think part of the higher prices charged by Alamy cover the nearly endless dawdling they allow their customers, both to report sales for images they're already using and to pay. When it's a $150 or $250 (gross) sale I don't mind much, but the $4.99 sales should not have that sort of leeway, IMO.

It's part of the landscape at Alamy...

18

...Do you use the same version Firefox Quantum 65.0.2?...

I just upgraded Firefox from 63.xxx to 65.0.1 on a Mac and can log in as a buyer (I have two accounts) and do searches and things work as expected. I don't normally use Firefox though, so it may be that there was a problem but it's been resolved?

19
Shutterstock.com / Re: Crash Dive
« on: March 04, 2019, 14:12 »
SS has been a bit sad sack of late and February was about on par (as in $6 more) with July 2011 - i.e. peak summer doldrums - one month after I returned from iStock exclusivity.

Even February 2012 beat February 2019 - along with all the other Februarys in between, some by a couple of hundred dollars.

I just received their (newly formatted) notice of payout email. They have the chutzpah to put in the headline "Great news!" - large and in bold!!

I beg to differ :)

20
What you are seeing is what happens every month.

Shutterstock has explained it in detail here

https://www.shutterstock.com/contributorsupport/articles/en_US/kbat02/000006593?l=en_US

That is what you get if you click on the link "Learn more" by your unpaid earnings on your dashboard.

Shutterstock has many failings, but they have never missed paying me, or paid the wrong amount, since 2004

21
General Stock Discussion / Re: Eyeem
« on: February 27, 2019, 17:12 »
EyeEm sell images in Getty for partner program. I sold image in that Getty partner program and I got from that sale only 1 dollar. Gettys cheapest license is 40 in euros. Why Im get only 1 dollar. This is so annoying.

Getty's prices are many and varied - what you see on the web site is "list" price and doesn't mean much.

I have files that have sold, EyeEm via Getty partner program, for royalties from $1.50, $2.00, $13.13, $15.63 to $57.49. There have only been a couple over $50; most have been at the lower end. I'd consider uploading more, but (a) metadata handling is useless and (b) Getty destroys careful keywording and removes most of the useful location information. All the sales I've had have been via the Getty partnership.

22
Shutterstock.com / Q4 2018 earnings call transcript
« on: February 26, 2019, 15:50 »
https://seekingalpha.com/article/4244296-shutterstock-inc-sstk-ceo-jon-oringer-q4-2018-results-earnings-call-transcript

Several references to testing pricing and packaging: "Pricing and packaging changes have been enabled by our testing culture and agile environment. " A rather opaque reference to business in the "e-commerce" channel - anyone have any clues what this means? "Across the e-commerce channel, we have developed an integrated marketing strategy with a focus on activities that deliver higher ROI conversion rate and customer lifetime value." Apparently e-commerce grew 10% last quarter which was the highest since 2015.

They talk about contributor "engagement" - without explaining exactly what they mean by that. I get why businesses want that from customers where their platform contains ads, but not what that could possibly mean - other than more uploads - for contributors: "Our contributor base is global and the ability to interact with contributors in their local languages has helped fuel the record high levels of engagement seen in 2018. "

Bad news for long time contributors is that there are now 650,000 contributors, an increase of 85% for 2018! No wonder 10% e-commerce growth means nothing to existing contributors :)

"We will continue to optimize our contributor experience with the goal of being the first place contributors go to, to monetize their content. "

There is one thing that makes an agency the first place contributors go and that's income. They can fart with the interface all they like but if the sales fall away, so will all but the newbie contributors (and in time that spigot will shut off too).

Other Q4 stats:

"... customer base grew by 3.5% to nearly 1.9 million customers. Paid downloads grew by 6.6% to an all-time high of $46.8 million. Revenue per download grew by 2.1% ... Our image library expanded by 42% to over 240 million images and our video library increased by 44% to over 13 million clips. Revenue growth ... was 6.7%."

The enterprise channel keeps growing in terms of revenue and was 41% of the total in Q4 2018 vs. 39% in Q4 2017. 66% of total revenue is from outside the US and about half of the non-US revenue is Europe. Contributor royalties were  26.7% which they describe as flat, but it was 28% not that long ago...

They expect 10-12 percent revenue growth in 2019. In the Q&A session they were asked about competition but wouldn't name it - I assume it's Adobe and that's why SS's Enterprise growth isn't what they predicted (but they don't directly say that).

Jon Originger makes some truly breathtaking fantasy statements about SS being picky with the content they add: "You can see that great growth rate 85% year-over-year, the number of contributors and the content coming in increases as well. So what we see with that is that we're able to pick and choose exactly the content. " If only the analysts bothered to look at the image spam explosion...


23
123RF / Re: Down!
« on: February 26, 2019, 13:39 »
Recent (Feb 18) interview with Stephanie Sitt is full of buzzwords and vague statements, including referring to 123rf as their "hero brand", but she wouldn't comment on financials or IPO plans or what they're dong with the companies they acquired in 2017

https://e27.co/interview-stepahanie-sitt-123rf-inmagine-group-malaysia-20190218/

The traffic estimator that Crunchbase uses (and which puts SS's monthly visitors at nearly 90 million) says 123rf is about 1/4 of that. I'm surprised it still that high.

https://www.similarweb.com/website/123rf.com

A sample of the sounding good while saying nothing: "While our core business focuses with offering world-class content stock libraries and editing tools to cater for multiple clientele, geography and partners, we are more than just a content company. As a global key player, one of the elements that sets us apart from our competition is our blend of creativity and technology. And so, apart from possessing a wealth of stock content at our fingertips, we offer a more complete solution specifically catered to our customers needs using Artificial Intelligence, content and data, and Machine Learning."



24
Adobe Stock / Re: Custom license in activity page
« on: February 26, 2019, 12:13 »
So the wrong big sales were custom license.
The question is how much we get for these "custom" sales 33%?
Mat, please explain what was the mistake in the calculation and why we got 12.5% from the previously announced amounts!


He already did that.

He said that the amounts were wrong because the sales price was wrong and that 33% royalty is paid on all Enterprise sales.

25
Adobe Stock / Re: Custom license in activity page
« on: February 26, 2019, 09:13 »
I had one marked custom for .38 - what's custom about that?

I have a number of those, and I think that's the high volume deals that hit the floor on per license pricing. At SS, the 38 cent SODs started with the Facebook deal, I think, where the ad buyer actually paid nothing and whatever fees passed to SS from FB, we got 38 cents per use.

I still think it's wrong that we have no insight into the license granted for SS Enterprise sales or AS custom deals, but that horse bolted a long time ago...

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