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Author Topic: iStockphoto can be saved  (Read 6861 times)

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« on: January 22, 2013, 11:39 »
+13
I attempted to post this on the iStock discussion forum but it was removed before I could fill my coffee cup. I was allowed to post it on the "suggestions" forum where they are sure it will not be seen.

This is the first time I have posted here so I hope I am doing it right. The following can also be found in the iStockphoto suggestion forum. I would love to hear what others think of this idea.

iStockphoto can be saved


It is obvious from sales stats and the buzz from the online community that iStock is well on its way to crash and burn.

IF the intention of Getty is to just absorb the iStock contributors images into Thinkstock and Getty then, while it is a shame to dump what a couple of years ago was the top of the microstock websites, it will be done.

IF instead there is a desire by Getty to revive the once respected iStockphoto brand and recreate the stable income that both owners and contributors experienced in 2010, please consider the following.


Please look at the marketing strategy of Dominos Pizza, a US chain of pizza stores that previously marketed itself on cheap pizza and fast delivery. That was fine until most all the pizza chains offered cheap pizza and delivery. Their market share diminished because they lacked one thing - a quality product. The strategy they used is almost unheard of and thus made a big impact. They admitted their shortcomings. They said that they have heard the complaints of their customers and set about to make the improvements. They marketed themselves on the fact that they were re-inventing themselves as a pizza chain that offered cheap pizza, fast delivery, and PIZZA THAT TASTES GOOD. That definitely caught the attention of their market. They continue with this strategy to this day. See more http://www.predictableprofits.com/a-tasty-million-dollar-marketing-lesson-for-every-entrepreneur/. [nofollow]


Now if iStockphoto could just stop with the current direction they are taking and do the unthinkable Admit they have been making mistakes AND PROGRESS TO REMEDY THOSE MISTAKES. That could catch the attention of former customers which have been leaving in droves. That could make the valuable Diamond contributors that are about to jump ship stop and listen.


Go back to 2010 when things were cooking here.
- Restore reasonable pricing structure.
- Restore and honor your original contract with contributors based on canister level, something that they can control rather that make their income dependent on the whims of iStock marketing and IT.
- Require all images admitted into the iStockphoto collections to pass the same level of inspection.
 -Stop making iStock images available on other sites for pennies or free.
The list could go on but I am sure you see the direction I am going in.


I would like to challenge you to make this announcement on Feb. 2, 2013, Groundhog Day. This would be symbolic for several reasons...

-        Historically, in the US, a ground hog emerges from its hole on Feb 2nd and if he sees his shadow he is scared back into his hole, expecting more bad weather ahead. If he does not see a looming shadow he comes out and starts exploring around due to the promise if better days coming soon.
-        The movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, an arrogant and egocentric Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during a hated assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, finds himself in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again. After indulging in hedonism and numerous suicide attempts, he begins to re-examine his life and priorities.
-        Finally Feb 2nd seems to be a wait and see date set by a number of iSockphotos valuable contributors.

Please consider making an honest attempt to restore iStockphoto to its former status as an industry leader and a business that is profitable to both owners and contributors.


« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2013, 11:51 »
-7
SIGH!  another one.

CJ6

    This user is banned.
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2013, 11:56 »
+3
I think there's more people that would love for IS to experience a thousand deaths, than them being saved...

« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2013, 11:57 »
+6
actually they don't understand how easy is to turn things around but again their greed, lack of intelligence and vision will make them go down

at this point they are becoming indiferent to almost all contributors except of 1% (happy exclusives or newbies still climbing which means nothing)

if they don't work on the google fiasco I really don't know how long to see them closing the store unless exclusives are willing to give their precious work for free

lisafx

« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2013, 11:58 »
0
A very noble and well-reasoned attempt, 2ndLook.  Hope it does not fall on deaf ears. 

« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2013, 11:59 »
+3
I'd love to see iStock turn things around, but I'm not sure that Getty/Klein/Carlyle think that there's a problem. Given that, I don't think they're in the market for ways to "solve" the problems.

It's not as if the forums have been silent on how contributors see the recent decisions by Getty - witness the long and articulate thread following Ms. Rockafellar's short-lived attempt to communicate.

Giving them more road maps for solutions is going to fall on deaf ears while they're happy as little clams with the train wreck they created.

Microbius

« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2013, 12:01 »
0
Yes, they could easily save IStock:
New pricing structure
New contributor pay structure
Opt out option for third party sales

They wont though, because Getty is not interested in the IStock brand, and the staff at IStock are probably just getting that message too. They just attempted to press the reset then HQ told them they couldn't actually do any of the things contributors were asking for and gave away all our work on Google.

Sad

« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2013, 12:08 »
+3
....They admitted their shortcomings. They said that they have heard the complaints of their customers and set about to make the improvements....
I don't know much about Dominos Pizza but I presume they hadn't been taken over by a much bigger rival that was then bought by a hedge fund that saddled them with a lot of debt and sold them on again.  If istock was still owned by Bruce, it would have a chance but its much more complicated.  I don't think the Getty management are capable of admitting their shortcomings and listening to their customers.  They've made istock so much part of Getty that there's probably no way to get it back again now even if they wanted to.  They say they want to keep the site going but their actions show they couldn't care less about it.

« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2013, 12:28 »
+2
....They admitted their shortcomings. They said that they have heard the complaints of their customers and set about to make the improvements....
  If istock was still owned by Bruce, it would have a chance but its much more complicated.
If IS was still owned by Bruce we wouldn't be in this mess now.

« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2013, 12:29 »
0
I think there's more people that would love for IS to experience a thousand deaths, than them being saved...

Who? and Why?

« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2013, 12:37 »
+1
It's too late for me.

« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2013, 12:37 »
+6
Is it actually in our long-term interests for Istock "to be saved"? Their recent history is one of abusing both customers and suppliers alike. Now they are simply reaping what they have sowed.

That's good isn't it? Wouldn't it have been a far worse outcome if they'd have gotten away with it? Imagine how much worse the abuse could have become then.

Who is in charge of Istock? Who makes the big decisions? I don't know. Only when you can identify that person and give us reasons why we should have faith in that person is there a snowball's chance in h*ll that Istock can be saved.

Nay. Save your breath pleading the Istock leopard to change it's spots. Better to abandon that crown and stand full-square behind industry leaders who do not abuse their power.


« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2013, 12:38 »
+6
I think there's more people that would love for IS to experience a thousand deaths, than them being saved...

Who? and Why?

Me for one.  I've never liked iStock; I have always felt that dealing them was frustrating and downright painful.  Their upload process was the worst in the industry, their policies endlessly frustrating (particularly around releases) and their take of the proceeds way too high. I didn't like them when they were my #1 earner, and even less when they fell to #2 and now #3. Cutting my already offensive 20% royalty was the last straw for me; the latest outrage is just one more reason to be grateful I am only minimally dependent on them, and less of that every day.  If iStock dies, perhaps it will be an object lesson to others. At least it will mean the elimination of an irritant.

mlwinphoto

« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2013, 12:54 »
0
I agree that it it is one of the two 'IF's'.  And, I've asked Getty/iStock which one it is so I can plan accordingly.  No response which is just as frustrating as all the ongoing site problems.


« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2013, 13:06 »
+5
I think there's more people that would love for IS to experience a thousand deaths, than them being saved...

Who? and Why?

Me because I don't contribute there anymore. They are my competitor and their royalty structure is bad for the industry. I'd like to see them fail, but it would take a lot more than them failing to change the industry. It would probably be a good start though.

I guess you could say that them turning over a new leaf would be more positive than their failure. That's true, but what in their recent behavior would have you believe that would ever happen? I don't see any signs of it. In fact, every year that goes by reaffirms my decision to leave iStock because the direction they were going was obvious.

« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2013, 13:12 »
-4
....They admitted their shortcomings. They said that they have heard the complaints of their customers and set about to make the improvements....
  If istock was still owned by Bruce, it would have a chance but its much more complicated.
If IS was still owned by Bruce we wouldn't be in this mess now.

I hope youre joking?  Bruce sold!  knowing full well the Getty track record. He wouldnt be able to do anything about IS.

Oringer OTOH, he could so something but hardly in his interest, is it.

Im still earning good money at IS. I have no reason to see them go down. I might beef at them but thats it. Never wish for another ones fall. It backfires.

« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2013, 13:51 »
+6

Me for one.  I've never liked iStock; I have always felt that dealing them was frustrating and downright painful.  Their upload process was the worst in the industry, their policies endlessly frustrating (particularly around releases) and their take of the proceeds way too high. I didn't like them when they were my #1 earner, and even less when they fell to #2 and now #3. Cutting my already offensive 20% royalty was the last straw for me; the latest outrage is just one more reason to be grateful I am only minimally dependent on them, and less of that every day.

Agreed. Most of us were upset with the 20% commission structure for years, and I know I was on the fence a few times about completely pulling my portfolio because of it. That they actually lowered the commission was abysmal. I have no desire to see iStockphoto survive. Their lost customer base will merge into other agencies, all of which pay higher commission percentages than iStockphoto. Sorry IS, but you aren't my problem.

If iStock dies, perhaps it will be an object lesson to others. At least it will mean the elimination of an irritant.

Fotolia will probably interpret as 15-19% commissions are too high for an agency to survive, and cut you further. Glad I left them too. They pretty much define the term "irritant."

EmberMike

« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2013, 14:07 »
+5

The only way to revive istock is if the company can get out from under Getty. Probably the only way that will happen is if Carlyle sells and parts out the company, allowing a private owner/investor to take istock on it's own. Not sure if that's even realistic or feasible. But really it's the only way I see this happening.

istock needs to operate independently of Getty in order to be revived.

« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2013, 14:14 »
+10
If you think about the most recent events, Getty pretty much simply botched up a big snatch and run corporate scheme.

Getty thought they would flood their site with the greatest amount of photo buyer traffic out of of all their sites (iStock) with expensive Getty content, and they made this move at the start of the peak fall and winter stock content buying season. It seemed like a slam dunk and a perfectly timed master plan to rake it in for a few months and impress their new partners/owners with windfall profits never seen before. They figured they would perhaps end up marginalizing some iStock contributors when the more expensive Getty stock started mopping up the sales instead of the cheaper iStock content, but no bigee they thought. A worthwhile sacrifice. And they were so absolutely confident with their new best match results (showing mainly Getty content) that the long time iStock buyers wouldn't be phased one bit. After all, the buyers could easily customize the searches for the content in the price range they want anyway if the Getty junk was too pricey for them.

What happened is they did definitely marginalize their iStock contributors almost immediately. But what also happened was that they halfway killed off the iStock brand by losing a huge amount of its buyer site traffic plus about 50% of its monthly revenue. Whoops, didn't see that coming at all did they? Oh well. Sh*t happens, right?

So that's where it is now and it has been for nearly 4 months. Long timers with fantastic portfolios are now making half or less of what they were making just a few months ago and, no matter what rabbits Getty may try and pull out of their hat now, it's always going to be a lot too little and way too late with the buyers having already migrated to lower cost stock content solutions elsewhere.

Very few businesses, except perhaps Apple, were ever able to lose so much of their customer base and then eventually turn things around and end up back on top again. But Getty isn't dynamic in that way and never were. There is no new Getty innovation forthcoming, no buzz, no cool factor, and no great value in their iStock product line to lure new and old iStock buyers back to the table.

Their exclusive contributor base of high quality shooters will continue to keep some buyers around on the site at least, but unfortunately the business model for most exclusives who do iStock as a full time vocation are slowly finding the new raw deal that has emerged from this big Getty cock up is quickly becoming financially unsustainable.   

I think Getty probably now accepts the fact that they killed off a fair amount of their iStock traffic and business in a royally bad corporate play, but their pockets are deep enough they will just suck it up, keep their game face on, keep plodding along, and continue to look for other ways to squeeze a buck out of a quarter instead.

Sadly, the biggest losers are the contributors who lost a fantastic platform for creating and selling their work. It now may take many years before another outlet as good as iStock was comes along to allow these great contributors to sell their work in high volume to the global masses again.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 14:41 by iStop »

« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2013, 14:46 »
0
Agreed. Most of us were upset with the 20% commission structure for years, and I know I was on the fence a few times about completely pulling my portfolio because of it.

That's kind of my thought. Does anybody really want to go back to only 20%? It doesn't seem like you could put that genie back in the bottle.

CJ6

    This user is banned.
« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2013, 15:50 »
0
I think there's more people that would love for IS to experience a thousand deaths, than them being saved...

Who? and Why?

Who? WHO?!?! Didn't you read a single forum post related to IS here at MSG? :o

« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2013, 15:59 »
-3
According to a report from management a while back istock is doing just fine. Since the original contributor base is not experiencing this I can only presume that their income is coming from their wholly owned content and the raft of outsiders they have brought in (none of whom seem to be complaining about the current state of affairs). IOW Getty have maintained the istock brand but replaced the content and business model with one that is more beneficial to them.

« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2013, 16:09 »
+7
They didn't say "doing fine" Christina, they said "meeting expectations".

It's fairly obvious that Getty is now fully in charge of iStock, even bypassing the Getty person they put in to run it.  This is the same Getty that managed its business so well that its share price collapsed and the shareholders ran for the lifeboats when the H&F salvage vessel hove into view. The salvage boys stripped out any old copper and brass they could find and sold it off to boost the balance sheet, while Capt Klein sailed blythely on, producing sufficient profit to resell the hulk, still under the impressive Captain, to another salvage crew who now appear to be melting down the anchor and stripping out the engines.

In the circumstances, passing helpful messages to the bridge seems to be a waste of effort.

« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2013, 16:46 »
-1
My knowledge of the industry is minimal. However it appears to me that Getty has been severely impacted by the microstock model over the past decade. They are attempting to come to terms with it. Microstock actually consists of two main aspects - the micropayment online delivery bit and the crowd sourced content bit. What seems to me to be happening is that they are maintaining the micropayment business model but are getting rid of the crowd sourced contributor aspect. Also they are applying more traditional payment models (such as the Google deal) to what is currently crowd sourced content, which is where the current friction is occurring. We contributors don't have the bigger picture, we don't really know what is going on behind our backs. And I don't believe Jonathan Klein is a fool.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 16:49 by crazychristina »

« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2013, 16:57 »
0
Its pretty simple.

They aquire a company full of images.
They dump those images on the internet, to be public domain.
End of microstock.

That sort of trade can be argued against and sued.

But when enough pictures are dumped, soon enough, its a fait accompli.

« Reply #25 on: January 22, 2013, 17:12 »
+2
I really don't see how the google deal can be described as a "traditional payment model".  It seems to be a unique deal.
And if they get rid of the "crowd sourced contributors" then they lose all of iStock and chunks of TS and Photos.com. Our work isn't theirs. They can't dump us and keep the images.

« Reply #26 on: January 22, 2013, 17:29 »
0
Can they not?

« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2013, 17:34 »
+4
My knowledge of the industry is minimal...

... And I don't believe Jonathan Klein is a fool.

Well, I'd hope that my knowledge of the industry is considerably less than 'minimal' ... and I do believe that Klein is a fool. A very big one. I wouldn't employ him to run my bath, let alone my business.

It was under JK's leadership that Getty's share price plummeted to the level that Getty's stock holders were more than happy to sell out cheaply to H&F (and were recommended to do so by JK). We all know what happened next.

Having bought Istock in 2006, for a fraction of it's true worth, Klein seems determined to run Istock's value back down to the $50M he paid for it. He's getting there ... quite quickly too.

Maybe you can tell me what Klein has achieved over the last 5 years or so?

« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2013, 17:45 »
-1
According to Wikipedia istock's revenue in 2007 was 71M. According to a thread here the revenue in 2011 was 400M. So it would appear that under JKs leadership istock has increased revenue 5 times in the past 5 years.

« Reply #29 on: January 22, 2013, 17:50 »
-1
I really don't see how the google deal can be described as a "traditional payment model".  It seems to be a unique deal.
And if they get rid of the "crowd sourced contributors" then they lose all of iStock and chunks of TS and Photos.com. Our work isn't theirs. They can't dump us and keep the images.

As I said earlier I'm certainly no authority, so I stand to be corrected. Didn't Getty once sell CDs full of images? Seems to me the Google deal is a somewhat updated version of that, which is what I was referring to as 'traditional payment model'. Or one of them.

lisafx

« Reply #30 on: January 22, 2013, 17:54 »
0
They didn't say "doing fine" Christina, they said "meeting expectations".

It's fairly obvious that Getty is now fully in charge of iStock, even bypassing the Getty person they put in to run it.  This is the same Getty that managed its business so well that its share price collapsed and the shareholders ran for the lifeboats when the H&F salvage vessel hove into view. The salvage boys stripped out any old copper and brass they could find and sold it off to boost the balance sheet, while Capt Klein sailed blythely on, producing sufficient profit to resell the hulk, still under the impressive Captain, to another salvage crew who now appear to be melting down the anchor and stripping out the engines.

In the circumstances, passing helpful messages to the bridge seems to be a waste of effort.

Perfect metaphor, Baldrick.  Bravo! 

« Reply #31 on: January 22, 2013, 17:56 »
0
All of this is intentional, I told you why!
They bought customers, not us or our images, its time to shut down iStock!
Their main fear is runaway of customers to other agencies during the shutdown process...
Customers are only and true value of their acquisition several years ago!

P.S.

That is reason why Stockfresh won't be sold as Stockxpert! Never again!
There is not such part of market any more on this world...
Positions are occupied, there is only a struggle and bribery, but it takes money...
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 18:19 by borg »

« Reply #32 on: January 22, 2013, 18:01 »
+1
According to Wikipedia istock's revenue in 2007 was 71M. According to a thread here the revenue in 2011 was 400M. So it would appear that under JKs leadership istock has increased revenue 5 times in the past 5 years.
How can we tell what istock has done when they've put so many Getty and other collections of images in to it?  It's integrated in to Getty now and isn't the same business it was in 2007.

« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2013, 18:37 »
+6
Christina, all that growth you are taking about happened under Bruce leadership. Although he sold istock to Getty in 2006 he stayed as CEO for another three years. He took advantage of many things getty had to offer - the established cv and ability to sell in 12 languages. Offices and sales team around the globe. He started two international language forums to support the expansion and attract more localized content, he and his team pushed workshops and shooting events around the globe.

Bruce is the man who made sure istock was a well oiled running business machine and so was Kelly Thompson who took over after him. He was not the most talented in the forums but he understood how the business dynamics on istock worked, how this very modern company with this new business model of admins who are also media producers and buyers, the community, the pro shooters, he understood how it all worked together.

But it seems getty hq didn't really bother to learn how this extremy valuable asset works. Their corporate tactics are just inappropriate for a 21 st century company like istock.

Bruce, Kelly and the whole istock team and community were the ones that built it.

Getty HQ looks determined to bring it crashing down.

Eta: I don't remember Jonathan Klein ever venturing into the forums or attempting to connect with the movers and shakers of the marketplace he owns.

It's like being the owner of a huge, huge mall. Even if you have a manager running it for you, wouldn't you sometimes walk into the place, talk to the different shop owners, just sit in a cafe watching the crowds to get a feeling for the mood and the vibes of the place?

And do you think you could get the same assessment how your investment is being run by watching the security footage from another country?

Nobody is expexcting him or the owners to get into the details. Just let the marketplace know that there is an owner there that looks into things and takes care the marketplace is well looked after.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 18:45 by cobalt »

« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2013, 20:52 »
0
Time will tell I guess. My hunch (and that's all it is) is that Getty is not interested in crowd sourcing.

« Reply #35 on: January 22, 2013, 22:41 »
+4
"crowd sourcing"?? That is how the company gets images. How else?? All exclusives??? Where do that get the exclusives from?? Lack of image diversity and quality will surely be a major problem for them. Other agencies have increased standards. Istock seems to be falling big time.

« Reply #36 on: January 22, 2013, 22:49 »
+3
as an example of relevance of images and quality I searched "koala". 3 of the first six were Kuala Lumpa and nothing to do with koalas. Often they also push images for their needs not the customers. Keep the exclusives happy, keep Getty happy, higher prices first, agency first, try to compete with SS by dumping on TS and PP.  In the end all the company has is a dwindling customer base whereas it once had extremely loyal customers and contributors. Yes it has exclusive content but at a price premium and is it better? Can t match the diversity elsewhere.

« Reply #37 on: February 01, 2013, 22:59 »
0
Istock will go down until it's a compete mess and then Bruce (who invested his millions) will fly back in and buy it up again at pennies on the dollar and lead it to supremacy again!

« Reply #38 on: February 01, 2013, 23:45 »
+2
Istock will go down until it's a compete mess and then Bruce (who invested his millions) will fly back in and buy it up again at pennies on the dollar and lead it to supremacy again!
It's quite possible. I think Ross Perot did that twice with his company. It's beginning to look like Bruce was maybe the only actually smart person ever associated with managing or working at iStock.

« Reply #39 on: February 02, 2013, 01:48 »
+1
It worked for Apple/Jobs.


 

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