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Topics - Jo Ann Snover

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1
https://unsplash.com/blog/introducing-unsplash/
https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2022/10/05/2528745/0/en/Unsplash-launches-Unsplash-a-new-unlimited-subscription-offering-exclusive-content.html

There is a special discount as part of the launch - $84 for a year or $12 per month

https://unsplash.com/plus/

-Unlimited royalty-free downloads
-Enhanced legal protections

They want to reassure that the old model isn't gone: "Dont worry: the Unsplash open library isnt going anywhere. Unsplash will continue to offer an extensive library of free visuals alongside Unsplash+."

As Getty Images' stock closed at $6.53 today, I guess they're looking for more sources of revenue to cheer up investors...

2
I missed this announcement earlier this week:

https://www.fiverr.com/news/shutterstock-fiverr-integration

Not sure how it works when the site is still offering to resell stock images - and I did an image search on one of the gig's "example" composite and it was an iStock image he's not authorized to resell. They haven't cleaned up much/enough/at all over the last several years

https://www.fiverr.com/search/gigs?query=stock%20photos&source=top-bar&search_in=everywhere&search-autocomplete-original-term=stock%20photos

I put together some screenshots to illustrate just what a ripoff market for stock images is still there on Fiverr (in case they do another quick cleanup as was done a few times in the past - but all the scammers came rolling back in)

The press release isn't listed on Shutterstock's page, but is on Fiverr's. Wire services picked up the release (which is how I found it) but not a peep out of the mother ship

https://investor.shutterstock.com/news-releases

I couldn't find anything on their blog either

https://www.shutterstock.com/blog/

Am I missing something and this is really good news for contributors? What's the point of partnering with a site that allows gigs that openly advertise violating stock agency licensing terms?

3
Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock Q2 results & earnings call
« on: July 27, 2022, 16:05 »
Shutterstock posted its Q2 2022 financial results yesterday (July 26) and in the earnings call, tried to put an upbeat spin on results that missed what analysts had been expecting. The stock ended the day at $54.40, down, but not as bad as the early morning reaction which had it at $50.04.

https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/why-shutterstock-is-falling-hard-today

Investor relations site:

https://content.shutterstock.com/investor-report/index.html

Press release:

https://investor.shutterstock.com/node/12451/pdf

Earnings call transcript

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4525885-shutterstock-inc-sstk-ceo-paul-hennessy-on-q2-2022-results-earnings-call-transcript

Perhaps the disappointing financials account for a reduction in the amount of capital SS projects it will return to shareholders in 2022. It was $132 million in the Q1 estimate but is now $105 million - that's still almost double the $58 million returned in 2021. Not sure it's good news for contributors, but it could have been worse if they'd kept to their earlier number when revenues were weak.

Even though revenues increased, that appeared to be largely a result of acquisitions, not any growth in their existing business - at some point they'll run out of things to acquire :)

"E-commerce revenue growth was primarily driven by revenue generated from our acquisitions of PicMonkey and Pond5. Revenue from our Enterprise sales channel increased 15% as compared to the second quarter of 2021, to $79.5 million, and represented 38% of second quarter revenue in 2022. Enterprise revenue growth was driven by our multi-asset product offerings and continued momentum in Shutterstock Studios and Shutterstock Editorial. Enterprise revenue growth also benefited from our acquisitions of Pond5 and Splash News."

Subscriber revenue in Q2 was down from Q1 ($84.7m vs $85.4m) even though up over Q2 2021. In the earnings call, the new CEO boasted about the number of customers: "...on our marketplace, 2.1 million customers purchased content from a community of 2.2 million contributors. That's a contributor base that is larger than our nearest competitor by 4X.". In the Subscribers chart from the investor site, it says Shutterstock has 368,000 subscribers in Q2, up from 359k in Q1 (and they note that those numbers excludes PicMonkey, Pond5 and Splash News). Not sure where the rest of the 2.1 million came from as I'm guessing the enterprise business is smaller numbers than the e-commerce business.

As far as the boast about number of contributors goes, I think it's fair to say that all those hopeless portfolios of less than 500 unsaleable images mean nothing to the agency's success or a customer's view of the freshness or quality of content. I took a look at new photo content on Shutterstock just a few minutes ago and some of it is truly dismal - there is good work there too, but their boast about having the best/largest library would be more interesting if they tightened up their inspections:

"... we have the freshest content from around the world with 5 million to 10 million assets being added every single quarter. Our content library is by far the largest and deepest by a significant margin with 484 million creative and editorial images... In short, from a customer perspective as a result of Shutterstock's extensive growing library and ability to service the right content it means that Shutterstock is the go to destination for your content needs whether for example you are a creative professional, a small business owner, or a marketing professional. ... Ultimately world class content is the lifeblood of Shutterstock's business and the reason why we are the dominant player in the market."

Whether or not the analysts bought this view of Shutterstock's place in the market isn't clear, but the first question was asking for detail on why Shutterstock was confident that their content was going to bring about the results they predicted. This was the CEO's answer:

"We've got the leading position in contributors, the leading position in content acquisition. We've done some acquisitions to further bolster our position in content and we understand that getting the right content and putting it in front of our customers so that they can actually convert better, drives the fly wheel forward. "

The answer from the finance guy about which customer segments looked to be strong & growing vs. weaker mentioned Shutterstock moving from serving creatives to offering tools so that anyone could be a creative. That translates to me as competing with Canva which as far as I can see is the leader in that area. He mentioned "... tools first, template driven design tool subscription...", Creative Flow, which launched last month

https://www.shutterstock.com/blog/introducing-creative-flow-create-with-confidence
https://www.shutterstock.com/pricing/creative-flow

Not sure what image use as part of Creative Flow means for contributors - possibly a subscription royalty?

Hennessy was asked a question about how SS was going to manage growth and this word salad was his answer:

"When I talked about investing for growth in our channels, we're going to obviously make sure that our core continues to be healthy. And in places where we see now new opportunities, and again, we talked a lot about enterprise, there are large scale customers that want what we have. And we're going to enable that, and we're going to enable that fast because as we enable that quickly, that widens and deepens our competitive mode. So that's really what I mean, but we will be responsible stewards of our investors' capital and the capital that we kick off from our business. And, again we'll stay the course in terms of delivering high value for our shareholders and long-term margin expansion."

4
It sounds as if the content behind these NFTs will be old archival images Getty owns, not images where royalties would be paid, but I'm guessing they're looking for growth somewhere and have been convinced that NFTs might provide that. If any of the images used in NFTs are royalty-bearing, I wonder how Getty will compensate the copyright-holder.

https://decrypt.co/100681/getty-images-to-launch-first-nfts-on-palm-through-candy-digital

As far as Shutterstock "watching out", I don't expect this effort to go anywhere, and neither does the author of the above article:

"The NFT community at large, however, appears less interested in photography and more interested in trading the metaverse or profile picture project of the week. Notably, the top 100 collections on OpenSeawhose marketplace still makes up the vast majority of all NFT salesdoes not include a single photography collection. "

Some more coverage of this announcement:

https://bitcoinist.com/getty-images-forays-into-nfts/
https://www.builtinseattle.com/2022/05/18/getty-images-sell-nft-candy-digital
https://blockchain.news/news/getty-images-to-start-nft-marketplace-with-candy-digital
https://www.coinspeaker.com/getty-images-candy-digital-nfts/

I've been looking for more information on the announced (Dec 2021) SPAC deal to take Getty public again. Lots of other SPAC deals have fallen apart this Spring:

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/goldman-sachs-and-other-big-banks-hit-spac-pause-button-as-market-shifts-and-new-regulations-loom-11652189888


5
https://investor.shutterstock.com/news-releases/news-release-details/shutterstock-appoints-paul-hennessy-chief-executive-officer

Experience with a used car marketplace and Priceline don't suggest any sort of return to the roots of a platform for the creative professional :)

Vroom announced its new CEO today as they "realign" their business

https://www.autoremarketing.com/retail/vroom-names-new-ceo

He is still listed as Vroom CEO on his LinkedIn page - I guess this was all very last minute

https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulhennessy1/

And Vroom needs a turnaround plan after Hennessy's turn as CEO?

https://www.barrons.com/articles/vroom-vrm-stock-earnings-ceo-turnaround-plan-51652197593

From the Barron's article:

"For fiscal 2022, Vroom is expecting e-commerce unit sales of 45,000 to 55,000, with an adjusted Ebitda loss, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, of between $375 million to $325 million. . . . Over the last 12 months, Vroom has lost 96% of its value, losing 88% this year alone. . . . Vroom said on Tuesday it would begin to implement a business realignment plan to turn things around. The plan prioritizes unit economics, reducing operating expenses, and maximizing liquidity. Jobs cuts are included. Management expects to achieve approximately $135 million to $165 million of cost reductions and operating improvements throughout 2022.. . . The company still needs to navigate a host of risks, including its limited operating history and lack of profitability"

So far (early in the trading day) investors aren't over the moon about the combination of the new CEO and Pond5 acquisition. Stock is slightly down from Tuesday's closing price (which was $64.23)

The Nasdaq was down today, but even so, investors didn't greet the new CEO and Pond5 acquisition with enthusiasm. SSTK closed at $62.15, down $2.08

The acquisition of Pond5 is for $210 in cash (press release). In the Q1 reports on Shutterstock's earnings, they said they had $163 million of free cash flow (charts on the investor micro site) and their "Ending Cash" for the quarter was $258 million. I don't know enough about this type of accounting to be sure, but it looks as if the bulk of their cash hoard is getting spent on Pond5.  Mr. Hennessy will have many plates to keep spinning in his new job...

6
Edited May 3 to note that Stan Pavlovsky resigned as CEO April 27th, effective May 3rd. Jon Oringer is interim CEO until they find someone. See more in my post later in this thread:

https://www.microstockgroup.com/shutterstock-com/shutterstock-q1-numbers-and-earnings-call/msg576204/#msg576204

There are some links to the details on the numbers, but I think that the headlines for contributors looking at the rest of 2022 and what things will be like are best summed up by one chart, two new hires and talk of another new "product" to come later this year. Oh, and paid download numbers continue downward (3% drop to 44.6 million).

The stock market was down today, but SSTK was down more than the market and closed at $77.43, down 3.93%. They presented as many gains as they could, but Income from operations decreased 16% to $31.9 million, net income decreased 10% to $26.6 million and adjusted EBITDA decreased 3% to $54.8 million.

The chart: Shareholder Return of Capital (below) says that SS plans to return $132 million for 2022 via share buybacks and quarterly dividends. Compared to $58 million in 2021. That's money not going to building the business or rewarding contributors. Indirectly that rewards employees who get bonuses directly or indirectly via the stock price as well.

The new hires: a new Chief Marketing Officer, Jason McClelland. He'd done some short stints (1 year each) at startups and a long one (16 years) at Adobe in web services, product management and head of eCommerce. According to his LinkedIn page he developed the switch to subscriptions. Some of the previous CMOs at Shutterstock (there have been lots) were there for a few months (Dorian Quispe), a year-ish (Jeff Weiser) or long term (2 years, Lou Weiss). We should start a pool on how long this guy lasts.

The new VP of Brand Marketing, Skip Wilson, left Peloton in Feburary (so I assume he was part of that layoff of 2,800 people). In the press release he says "The opportunity to create a strong brand that drives a deeper connection to the Shutterstock audience is what excites me"

https://investor.shutterstock.com/news-releases/news-release-details/shutterstock-appoints-chief-marketing-officer-and-vice-president

The new product: In the earnings call transcript, amongst the typical firehose of buzzwords, Stan Pavlovsky talked about new features that will roll out first to existing subscribers to help them predict which images will work in their campaigns (AI got a mention here). The notion is that as cookies and other tracking devices are doing away, marketers will need ways to know what will succeed and Stan says SS AI can help them do that (based on what exactly, he didn't say). The new product is a cheaper subscription to their Catalog, Plan, Create & Predict apps that includes free content - in other words all the revenue will go directly to them and none to contributors (he didn't point that out; those are my words). There will be an "upsell" to premium content:

"In addition, we plan to introduce later this year a creative flow subscription, which will include the Catalog, Plan, Create and Predict apps and will also incorporate our AI-powered search. This new product will target the casual creative segment and will include a free tier of Shutterstock content with an upsell path to Shutterstocks premium content subscriptions. We believe that this standalone creative flow subscription product, which will be available at lower monthly price point, represents an extension to new audiences who previously may not have had a need for stock content."

Still going after Canva's business, but Canva has a completely free tier which I don't think SS has. Stan talks about SS being able to broaden its presence beyond the content selection phase of projects.

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4503661-shutterstock-inc-sstk-ceo-stan-pavlovsky-on-q1-2022-results-earnings-call-transcript

Some interesting comments from the earnings call: subscription revenue as a percent of total revenue in Q1 43%, which was an all-time high - I assume because the on-demand credit packs and SOD are decreasing given the new FLEX offerings. There'll be a new unlimited music subscription with sound effects in Q2. In the Q1 2022 numbers (for subscribers and subscriber revenue) Turbo Squid is included for the first time (PicMonkey still is not; they apparently wait until they're one year on from the acquisition) so any gains aren't entirely a fair comparison as it's only in the 3 months ending March 31.

Stan was asked a question about how the apps had performed in keeping subscribers coming back. I can't explain his answer, but here it is:

"As far as retention goes, which is sort of whats most important about these applications, were seeing about 20% for the applications that weve launched, were seeing about a 20% engagement with the applications already. For new customers that are coming and engaging with the apps, they have about twice the engagement of customers who dont engage with the apps."

Contributors can't pay the bills with engagement but with royalties - those come from paid downloads. I think there was a genuine question in there from the analyst - are you seeing more subscribers continue their subscriptions if they use the apps - but he let Stan off the hook.

There will be a FLEX10 product (to follow the FLEX25) but that's being tested this quarter; no release date

https://investor.shutterstock.com/news-releases/news-release-details/shutterstock-reports-first-quarter-2022-financial-results
https://content.shutterstock.com/investor-report/index.html
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jasonmcclelland/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/skipawilson/

7
I saw a post about Deposit Photos creating two collections of free images/videos of protests about the war in Ukraine (an account is required, but you can use a Google or FB account if you don't already have one at DepositPhotos).

https://depositphotos.com/folder/International%20rallies%20in%20support%20of%20Ukraine-299149664.html

https://depositphotos.com/folder/The%20truth%20about%20Russia%27s%20war%20in%20Ukraine%20-299150880.html

They explain why they are doing this:

https://www.facebook.com/Depositphotos/posts/10158454288786720

Most of the content is editorial use only (not surprisingly given the subject)

8
I've no idea who the author is - I don't follow SPAC much and think it's most likely a bad idea to try and bypass typical IPO reporting and checks - but I thought this was interesting

https://subspac.substack.com/p/gettys-spac-deal-is-two-decades-in

Very quick gloss over Getty's history, leaving out how many times it squeezed contributors (both of Getty Images and acquisitions like PumpAudio) or its sideline in sky-high demand notices for image uses it deemed to be unlicensed. Or licensing public domain images, or...

The dig at iStock - that it licensed low quality photos for $5-$10 - is missing the point. Lots of iStock images were at least as good as lots of Getty images - that's why iStock did so well. Getty did have amazing stuff that none of the microstocks had, but huge piles of Getty's "everyday" stock images weren't any better than anyone else's but still licensed for a premium. But I digress :)

Interesting that the SPAC blog says that Getty's total addressable market is quite a bit smaller than Shutterstock's investor microsite claims its TAM to be.

Getty: "The current addressable market for Getty is estimated to be $3.3 billion and grow to $4.8 billion by 2028"
Shutterstock: "Stock Imagery $4.2BN, Music $1.3BN, Video $0.7BN"

Talk of "margin expansion" shows up in the blog post and in Shutterstock's recent earnings call - all the agencies are on that page :(

For an overview of SPACs:

https://www.fool.com/investing/how-to-invest/stocks/spac/#:
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/spac.asp


9
Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock Q4/2021 full year financials
« on: February 11, 2022, 00:30 »
Shutterstock announced their end of year financials this morning and although there were some good numbers, for investors, the stock closed at $85.68, down $7.66. The market overall was only a little off, so the sentiment appeared to be that Shutterstock's growth wasn't what investors had hoped

https://investor.shutterstock.com/news-releases/news-release-details/shutterstock-reports-fourth-quarter-and-full-year-2021-financial

Their investor "microsite" has been updated with some slides and videos (I watched a couple but there's no new information and they are so stilted and awkward, I don't recommend them)

https://content.shutterstock.com/investor-report/index.html

You can read the transcript of the earnings call at Seeking Alpha - again, lots of buzzy nonsense for the most part. A taste (from Stan Pavlovsky):

Quote
"As discussed last quarter, e-commerce organic growth was low-single digits in the quarter, and the slowdown partially reflected the lapping of new e-commerce subscription products launched in 2020. Further, as we increasingly transition to a subscription led model, we have seen softness within our transaction customer segment, which uses our products on an ad-hoc project by project basis."

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4485857-shutterstock-inc-s-sstk-ceo-stan-pavlovsky-on-q4-2021-results-earnings-call-transcript

The enterprise segment appears to be showing signs of life; more new products in the e-commerce section that should lead to "organic growth"; the FLEX subscriptions appear to be doing well. Metaverse, AI and computer vision got a mention and Shutterstock plans "deeply embedding ourselves in our customers' workflow". They bought back $27 million in stock during 2021 and plan to buy $100 million per year!

"All submitted content is reviewed by AI technology and human experts to ensure the highest quality, integrity and licensability" That is apparently a "Global Marketplace Network Effect". As I mentioned, buzzwords galore.

Their earnings per share for 2021 were $3.48 and their guidance for 2022 is $3.65 to $3.80. That made me wonder if more squeezing of contributor revenues might be coming, but then I thought about something Stan Pavlovsky said:

 "...we believe that our new creative power tools powered by PicMonkey will drive an increase in high-margin recurring subscription revenue, adding further stability and visibility into our revenue base"

In the investor site there's a chart of various markets they think they can play in - increasing their TAM (total addressable market) gets mentioned a lot. Of their existing business - stock images, music and video - imagery is the biggest at $4.2 billion with 5.2% growth (not sure if that's the market growing or Shutterstock's share of it - or just some random number). But "Creative Software Tools" is nearly twice the size at $8.2 billion, with 8% growthl

I think Shutterstock wants to grow subscription products that don't have any royalty costs associated with them: "Shutterstock's global creative platform, Creative Flow, includes the scale and embedded relationships with leading social media platforms enables our customers to generate high quality creative work, allowing us to capitalize on this emerging opportunity." That's a cut and paste - I can't explain exactly what they might have meant!

This is right underneath a bullet point: "Shareholder Returns Driven by Revenue Growth, Margin Expansion, Capital Return and M&A". Remember that margin expansion means primarily cutting royalty expense for the existing stock business. More on that in my chart, posted below.

There was more happy talk about using AI and data to sell services to customers and the value of all the data Shutterstock gathers from metadata on the content and searches customers do. Even assuming they can get some good software tools out of the three AI companies they acquired in 2021, the fact that huge amounts of their metadata is spammy rubbish will really hamper any efforts in that area (IMO).They have never really addressed keyword spam/stuffing/errors although they know it's there.

I found it interesting their their subscriber revenue in Q4 2021 was slightly lower than Q3 2021 - historically Q4 has always been the big quarter (there's a chart on the investor microsite). They say there was growth of 14% but that's over Q4 2020 (and 2020 followed a typical pattern, although everything was lower -pandemic and all).

The chart below is similar to one I posted earlier in 2021, but covers entire fiscal years from 2013 to 2021. It only include things that affect contributors - how many downloads, how much royalty expense, how many contributors, etc.

Bottom line is not a surprise - Shutterstock's business is growing revenue & profits, but the contributor's share of that is lower - 35.9% of revenue in 2021 was paid out in royalties. That's lower than in any other year from 2013 on. At the end, I tacked on another way to look at this. Contributors have grown from 55,000 in 2013 to over 2 million in 2021 (according to Shutterstock's financial reports). I know that lots of those contributors don't do much but when you look at the royalty payout on a per contributor basis, it highlights just how much thinner the reduced royalty payouts are being spread.

Tighten your belts :)

The PDF and JPG have the same data; I didn't realize the forum couldn't display the PDF

Edited Feb 15 to add a link to this investor news which talked about Shutterstock's competitive position strengthening and illustrated the article with an Unsplash photo! You can't make this stuff up...

https://www.insidermonkey.com/blog/bernzott-capital-shutterstock-sstks-competitive-position-is-strengthening-1027404/

10
https://investor.shutterstock.com/news-releases/news-release-details/shutterstock-increases-quarterly-dividend-14-024-share

Shutterstock has raised the dividend per share from 21 cents to 24 cents for the next payout - March 17th for shareholders as of March 3rd.

And all contributors know where the extra cash is coming from :)

I'm not well versed in the whys and wherefores of a company changing its dividend amount, but I had a read of this explanation:

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/091015/how-dividends-affect-stock-prices.asp

SSTK (Shutterstock's stock) has been dropping of late - not just in the big selloff in the US stock market in the last week or so. It closed today at $93.71, down quite a bit from its high of $128.36 in November, although up a lot from $70 at the beginning of Feb 2021. (Edited to add SSTK was $89.05 at close on Jan 27 2022). It's possible that management is hoping to nudge the stock price back up with the dividend announcement.

February 10 we get to find out their Q4 earnings.

11
https://investor.shutterstock.com/news-releases/news-release-details/shutterstock-and-staples-us-retail-join-forces-power-new

I dug around on Staples' site and found some details. It's a one-use license for $1.99. You get charged again if you re-order the project. You can't use the image in any off-site projects (see the screen capture).

If the no reuse policy is enforced, and if Shutterstock contributors get their percentage on the full $1.99 price, this could be a decent deal for contributors. 60 cent royalty for a single use (at the 30% royalty rate). I have no idea how popular Staples own design services are - possibly if the bulk of customers already use Canva, it's not clear how this partnership will pry them away to switch over.

This brief rundown on Staples - I didn't know it had been acquired by a private equity firm - says its sales have been falling sharply as customers move to online outlets, so perhaps only a modest impact for Shutterstock contributors.

https://www.statista.com/topics/2114/staples/


12
On Tuesday, Shutterstock announced their Q3 results and on several measures beat Wall Street's estimates. Stock ended up for the day. Today (Wednesday) there was some sort of anxiety and the shares ended at 117.44 (-$6.87  or 5.53%). In general, management's actions have kept Wall Street happy and that's still much higher than a year ago.

https://investor.shutterstock.com/static-files/086ac986-a1de-4ef2-bf06-3c177314a566
https://investor.shutterstock.com/news-releases/news-release-details/shutterstock-reports-third-quarter-2021-financial-results
https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2021/10/26/shutterstock-inc-sstk-q3-2021-earnings-call-transc/

Shutterstock didn't include PicMonkey's numbers yet.

The Enterprise Channel has apparently risen from the grave and grew by 17% ("... bookings momentum and great performance at Shutterstock Studios"). They noted increase sales commissions to go with the Enterprise growth.

Gross margin improved by another 0.7% - they noted a gradual return to paid downloads but said it didn't impact their gross margins (I assume because of the lower minimum royalties, but they didn't say why).

They changed their guidance for the end-of-year numbers including this comment "Revenue of $765 million to $770 million representing 14.75% to 15.5% annual revenue growth. ...annual margin expansion of 100 to 150 basis points above our previously provided range of 100 basis points of annual margin expansion."

Any time they talk about increasing gross margins by 1% to 1.5%, contributors should look out for reduced royalties - contributors are the cost of goods and thus need to be shrunk :)

They now have a FLEX subscription on the web site - think cut price on-demand packages (but you have to be careful to cancel as it will renew each month if not). You get 25 points per month - Images are 1, Videos are 8 and Music is 4. With no annual commitment, an image costs a buyer $2.76, versus $9.80 for an on-demand product. Not sure how a video for $22.08 will appeal to video contributors - compare that to $71.80 for an HD clip or $119 for 4K (with subscription).

From their support page, "FLEX 25 comes with no restrictions on image size or footage resolution, however, it currently excludes Select footage and PremiumBeat."

There was lots of frothiness about Creative Flow and its components - Shutterstock.AI...blah, blah...content organization...blah, blah...create and collaborate. Also larger and faster-growing TAMs (total addressable markets) including "... the $8 billion TAM for creative applications". They want to transform Shutterstock "...we should be able to accelerate our growth beyond the stock content market segment"

In the earnings call, questions were about slowdown of the growth rate and Stan deflected with some words about their data business to "... generate a pipeline around image recognition and data products, particularly for platforms that are building artificial intelligence models".

A question about Creative Flow was what users were asking for and how did this compare to competitors. Stan Pavolovsky's answer is primo content free corporate speak:

"So, if you can take millions of pieces of content and take that down to a handful based on recommendations, tied to our first-party data, that's an incredible win for our customers. And so the acquisitions we did as part of Shutterstock. AI in addition to our existing image recognition data is allowing us to launch these products with the recommendations, with content recommendations. And so that's really the kind of what we call the secret sauce to how we're transforming the company. But effectively. It's, we are moving into our customers' workflows with tools centered around storage, centered around planning, centered around image our editing, but we're doing it all with recommendations upfront."

They were asked about the new FLEX subscriptions and how those have performed and why introduce more. The CFO said that they were seeing increased "wallet share" especially from enterprise customers.

Another question was whether any of the other market "headwinds" - advertising, supply chain, etc. - were affecting Shutterstock's markets. CFO said not really.

And I've done a Q3 chart showing changes from a contributor perspective. Overall downloads are still down (they report them as up because they're comparing to Q3 2020, not all time) and royalties down on an all-time basis, but up 0.1% compared to Q2 2021. But compared to Q3 2020, even though the revenue per download rose nearly 11%, contributors' share (royalties) declined by 0.02%

13
The portfolio:
https://www.shutterstock.com/g/sentongo?sort=popular

This is the image of mine he has uploaded as his own

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/stunning-picturesque-sunrise-down-by-merrymeeting-1119292577

This is my image in my Adobe Stock portfolio

https://stock.adobe.com/images/mist-rises-from-merrymeeting-lake-as-seen-from-the-beach-by-the-marina-boat-launch-new-durham-new-hampshire-right-after-sunrise-on-a-summer-morning/133258605

The same guy has a portfolio on iStock with many of the same images, but not that image of mine.

https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/Sentongo?mediatype=photography

You might want to check his portfolios to see if any of your images are there - it's a very odd portfolio with lots of places around the world represented, but only one image of each location.

I have written to Shutterstock compliance to tell them to remove the image and send me an accounting of how many licenses they've sold and how much I am owed (it's marked as "Commonly Used"; it really irks that they would get to keep any money buyers had paid to license this image).

compliance (at) shutterstock (dot) com is where you can write if any of your images are  there.

I noticed two images that are just a flipped version of another Shutterstock image (the image numbers make it clear who's stolen and who's the author):

Originals
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/river-thames-bridge-st-johns-lock-520443904
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/sun-rising-over-river-thames-on-520443892

Stolen, flipped image from Sentongo
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/mystic-early-morning-by-river-thames-1113930485
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/fabulous-twilight-before-dawn-down-by-1111015958

He's done the same flips in his iStock portfolio

Originals
https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/river-thames-bridge-at-first-light-gm625232702-110044607
https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/sunrise-over-the-river-thames-gm625231978-110043977

Stolen
https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/a-mystic-early-morning-gm977643968-265797618
https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/first-light-gm973801836-264951212

It's pretty sad that neither iStock nor Shutterstock detected someone uploading a flipped version of something already on their site.

14
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/shutterstock-launches-flex-premium-offering-greater-creative-flexibility-to-small--and-medium-sized-businesses-301371845.html

No prices on the web site, but this includes the entire collection - video, music, Offset images, extended licensing, editorial images, unwatermarked comps - with no monthly or daily limits for a flat monthly price.

https://www.shutterstock.com/business/flex-subscriptions

My crystal ball has taken early retirement, but I'm guessing that this will just increase the number of 10 cent minimum royalty amounts for all levels of contributors while dropping a larger percentage of the monthly fee going into Shutterstock's pocket.

15
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/shutterstock-acquires-picmonkey-a-leading-creative-design-platform-301369908.html

From what I've read, it seems Canva is the market leader in the online design-with-templates space and PicMonkey is just another player.

PicMonkey was using Unsplash and iStock as a partner for images and illustrations, but that's ending Sept 14th (Shutterstock takes its place).

Here's what PicMonkey is telling their users about the buyout:

https://www.picmonkey.com/help/accounts-and-billing/all-about-picmonkey-and-shutterstock/picmonkey-and-shutterstock

If you're curious about the (many) online design tool subscriptions currently out there, here are a couple of alternatives-to-Canva articles:

https://blog.dailylogochallenge.com/canva-vs-competition/
https://paperform.co/blog/canva-alternatives/

From the contributor's point of view, more buyers could be a very good thing, but for many of these design services, the royalty per download is small. It's also not clear that this is expanding the pool of buyers; it may be Shutterstock wants to be sure it doesn't lose buyers to one of the other design tools.

Shutterstock's stock (SSTK) closed down today but jumped in after-hours trading. No clue what that's about.


16
https://investor.shutterstock.com/news-releases/news-release-details/shutterstockai-launches-data-aws-data-exchange-advance-computer

I think that the announcement means that there will be images and metadata made available by Shutterstock to be used to train AI systems or other non-traditional uses with no compensation to the owners of the images or metadata (Shutterstock doesn't do any keywording). In spite of their claims about rigorous review, keyword spam is rife on their site

"The datasets include collections of images and 3D models from Shutterstock.AI's library of 400 million visual assets, along with metadata backed by rigorous human and AI review. The datasets span multiple industry categories, and have been curated to align with some of the most common computer vision applications in ecommerce, travel and tourism, self-driving cars, and consumer electronics."

https://www.shutterstock.com/blog/shutterstock-ai-aws-team-up-to-help-companies-with-computer-vision

Here's some pricing information on the AWS web site:

https://aws.amazon.com/marketplace/seller-profile?id=fb34254c-c7cf-47b8-806c-24045a0a2807

How does that $10,000 price get shared out among contributors?

From the description on AWS as to what you get for your (minimum) $10,000, you're not licensing content, rather "This data license gives you the right to train models for the duration of the subscription. Data sets will be published to your S3 bucket." I could easily see how Shutterstock would decide nothing was due in royalties for training models, even though without contributor content they'd have nothing to offer.

17
This is not really a surprise, but take a look at how the contributor share of Shutterstock's revenue has been reduced (probably pole-axed would be more accurate) over the last couple of years.

These are just for Q2 in each of the years noted. If you haven't yet looked at their earnings report for Q2 2021, you can find the PDF on their investor relations page:

https://investor.shutterstock.com/node/11571/pdf

If you want to read the buzzword bingo that is the earnings call transcript (where the analysts seemed distracted by the fluff about how Shutterstock's three new AI company acquisitions will enable them to help customers predict which images/illustrations/videos will work for their campaigns)

https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2021/07/27/shutterstock-inc-sstk-q2-2021-earnings-call-transc/

Another note: the Q2 2021 report says that paid downloads increased, but that is with respect to Q2 2020. When you look at the paid downloads over time, you can see they are actually down below 2018 levels. And that's even with the unlimited downloads API program.

Shutterstock's stock was down 6% today (much more than the market overall) so not sure what Wall Street wasn't thrilled with... Closed at $101.11

18
This morning's email included something from Adobe Stock encouraging me to enhance by creative workflow using Search. What caught my eye was the line:

"Try sort by "Featured" for high-quality content first"

I thought I should check out some searches where I know my images come up on the first few pages to see how they fare with a "Featured" sort.

Unsurprisingly, in four test searches (by Relevant, Featured, and Downloads), many fewer of my images showed up on pages 1-5 (i.e. in the first 500) in "Featured" than did in either Relevant or Downloads.

I tried to figure out what the criteria might be (such as recent but with high downloads) but I see no pattern. Given that customer downloads have to count for something (and that I haven't been with Adobe Stock all that long - end of 2016 I was allowed back) I'm not sure what the yardstick is for high quality.

I kept detailed notes, but perhaps Mat can explain what the goal of this search is? In practice it seems really arbitrary. I tried a search for a topic I have no content in to see what I thought of the "Relevant" versus "Featured" results and I honestly think the page of images shown is much less good - visually, in terms of usefulness as a stock image, color/composition/tone. It was better than "Most Recent" in that the content was actually on topic, but not much.

An unrelated thing I noticed while doing test searches was that if I used the "Exclude people" search filter, all my property-released house pictures disappeared from the results. There are no people in any of them so they should all have been visible. Is it  possible that some recent changes have introduced a bug?

Does anyone else with property-released images see theirs disappear if they select "Exclude People" from a search? As I see lots of other images - house exteriors from the street where the house is the only subject (i.e. not a street scene) and where I have to assume there's a property release - perhaps it's only a subset.

19
Adobe Stock / Opting in for electronic 1099
« on: December 24, 2020, 12:57 »
This is FYI for anyone else who is a long-time Fotolia contributor and who, like me, has a four digit account number.

I tried to opt in to the electronic 1099s this morning but got an error that  my number had to be 5 to 10 digits. I've written to support to ask what to do. I'll post here when it's fixed or there's a workaround

20
Adobe Stock / Undiscovered Assets
« on: October 21, 2020, 22:29 »
I hadn't noticed a search filter at Adobe Stock until today - could have been there for ages. This is what the information button next to it says to explain it:

Undiscovered Assets
Use this filter to view content that has never been downloaded by anyone on Adobe Stock.
Please note that this content is not sold with an exclusive license, and may be downloaded by other customers at a later date. This Undiscovered filter may not be updated in real time.


The frequency of update obviously might make a difference to the numbers I gathered today (if it hadn't been updated for several months, it'll be very inaccurate), and without knowing how many images have been recently added to the collection - a flood of new content would obviously increase the percentage of content unsold - it's only a rough guide, but...

I went by category of content - photos, illustrations, vectors, videos, templates and 3D - and noted the numbers in that set, and the numbers with the undiscovered box checked. That let me see the percentage of content that had never been sold. The percentages were higher than I expected.

I calculated the same percentage for my portfolio. You can't use filters on your portfolio, but in the contributor dashboard, with your portfolio sorted by downloads, you have 100 images per page and then count whatever's on the last page with any downloads. For anyone who wants to see how their portfolio measures up to the collection overall, here are the overall numbers:

Media
Unsold percentage
Photos
81.95%
Illustrations
79.81%
Vectors
80.23%
Videos
96.83%
Templates
9.7%
3D
18.38%

Editorial use images (that's photos + illustrations + vectors) 85.86% unsold

Bear in mind that templates is a tiny category - just over 45k templates total - and 3D even smaller at 15k total. Video stands out with a very high percentage of unsold work.

I was happy to see that my unsold percentage was much less than the collection overall. :)

If you were a new contributor, I'd ignore percentages until you've been selling for at least a year. A longer-standing contributor who saw unfavorable numbers might want to consider how to improve - such as change subject matter.  Those numbers shouldn't be a high bar to clear.

21
Today, Shutterstock changed how the website displays how many images & videos it has in the collection and now has a strange reporting of

"We have more than 340 million images as of June 30, 2020."

Using a number from 6 weeks ago seems odd. This morning, they showed:

"Over 331,496,076 royalty-free images with 813,907 new stock images added weekly."

And in the pricing section they claim to add 1.7 million a week (everything - images, video & music)

Footage now says "We have more than 19 million video-clips as of June 30, 2020." but yesterday it said 19,139,690. On the footage pricing page it says they add 58,628 clips a week, so if you wind that back 6 weeks those numbers don't work either.

They clearly need to figure out which set of made up numbers they want to stick with, but even if they do, the rolling tide of awful continues in new uploads.

I tweeted about this with some screenshots

https://twitter.com/joannsnover/status/1296219015308701697

So far, the numbers you get when you search for nothing are still there, but possibly they'll go too.

I think buyers are probably minimally aware of these things, but they're skirting awfully close to misrepresenting their product with these sorts of claims. Combine that with things like the auto-renewal of on-demand image packs (which I thought they only did with subscriptions) and no wonder Trust Pilot is full of unhappy buyers...

22
Earlier in August, CyberLink announced two new Shutterstock deals for accessing stock images, video & music from within their apps

For the purchased iOS and Android apps, it appears you buy the photos with a small subscription. With the subscription apps, the Shutterstock content is "free" and appears to be just a subset of the library - 30k videos, 150k images and 300 music clips

https://www.facebook.com/cyberlink/videos/shutterstock-photo-library-now-in-photodirector-app-%EF%B8%8F-update-your-app-now-%EF%B8%8F-look/319437999198523/

https://www.cyberlink.com/products/photodirector-photo-editing-software-365/comparison_en_US.html

It's not clear what the contributor will receive from the "free" downloads, but as it's a subset of the total library, perhaps some sort of deal was worked out with the contributors

This is the video on CyberLink's site that mentions the number of images, videos & music clips for PowerDirector 365

https://www.cyberlink.com/learning/powerdirector-video-editing-software/3042/using-shutterstock%E2%80%99s-media-library-powerdirector-365

Here's the video for PhotoDirector

https://www.cyberlink.com/learning/photodirector-photo-editing-software/3072/using-shutterstock's-media-library-photodirector-365

I don't see anything that restricts further use of the images in other applications or projects, but as users get to download the file, I assume they get an RF license to use it broadly.

Shutterstock had said they planned to do more of these API deals, so this isn't a surprise, but I find it depressing that our content is increasingly being used as an enticement to subscribe to something else (in which we don't get a share of the revenue).

23
I hadn't heard of Design Pickle before this afternoon, but it's another of the Canva clones that offers a subscription design service with stock images/illustrations & video on the side. It's more high end than Canva as you get access to a designer, not just templates

https://designpickle.com/about/

They're not cheap - $395 to $995 a month (billed monthly), but with their former partner Getty Images, apparently images were 17 with the photographer getting 3 of that

A recent blog post says Design Pickle has their own vector & template option, FreshStock - unlimited downloads for $49/month - and has now partnered with Adobe Stock for their "premium" image add on

https://designpickle.com/product-update-freshstock-adobe-and-more/

The stock add-on is $25/month and includes a Danish company, JumpStory, and Adobe Stock

I have no idea what contributors will receive when Adobe Stock licenses via Design Pickle, but I hope the current minimum royalty of 38 (top tier) stays as is...

I did a search here for Design Pickle and didn't find anything, but if anyone else knows more about them, it might be good to track them here.

I've been concerned about the proliferation of the subscription design platforms, largely because it seems designed for the platform to pocket most of the money, leaving those who create the content without which there'd be nothing worth subscribing to with very little.

24
I have been monitoring content totals and looking at new uploads at Shutterstock, and on Saturday noticed that the totals were the same late in the day as on Saturday morning. No updates Sunday or Monday morning.

There was a post Monday in the Shutterstock forums:

"Approved content is taking longer than usual to be published. We expect everything to be back to normal by end of business (New York time) tomorrow."

https://forums.submit.shutterstock.com/topic/100692-accepted-content-not-being-added-to-port/?do=findComment&comment=1858455

From Saturday morning through Tuesday afternoon is a very, very long outage and it makes me wonder if they're making changes (rather than fixing bugs).

They disabled my account so I couldn't do anything even if I was inclined to, but possibly now might be a good time to grab anything you've a mind to in case it's no longer there after the changes.

Or this is just a very long bug fix and I'm concerned over nothing :)


25
Another member posted in one of the Shutterstock threads about the pending acquisition of Freepik - I hadn't seen anything about this, but I figured anyone trying to help Freepik grow is bad news for every other agency, and for those of us who contribute to every other agency.

So it doesn't get buried in unrelated discussion, I thought I'd post the links I found here. A couple of quotes from EQT talking up their acquisition & plans for growing it:

"(Freepik)...is today the global leader in its space and is the largest freemium provider of digital visual content in the world. Freepiks growth is evidenced by a rapidly expanding community of 20 million registered users who are supported by a network of over 450 in-house freelancer graphical designers and a strong external contributor base."

"Freepik plans to further penetrate existing markets, such as US and Asia, ultimately, aiming to become the market leading and go-to platform for online content creators and functional users around the world"

Tech Crunch article from May 28

https://techcrunch.com/2020/05/28/eqt-acquires-freemium-graphics-and-stock-photo-marketplace-freepik/

EQT's announcement on twitter May 27

https://twitter.com/eqt/status/1265886988336607232

Crunchbase profile of EQT (and I couldn't find anything about the NYSE stock ticker that is mentioned there)

https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/eqt-holdings#section-overview

EQT's LinkedIn page

https://www.linkedin.com/company/eqt-group/

EQT's press release on their own site

https://www.eqtgroup.com/news/Press-Releases/2020/eqt-acquires-freepik-company-the-global-leading-freemium-provider-of-digital-visual-content/

StockPhotoSecrets

https://www.stockphotosecrets.com/news/freepik-acquired-by-eqt.html

Consultancy.eu

https://www.consultancy.eu/news/4271/drake-star-partners-advises-spains-freepik-on-investor-deal

Analyze Markets

https://www.analyzemarkets.com/en/intelligence/eqt-to-acquire-majority-stake-in-spanish-digital-graphic-content-provider-freepik


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