“If you want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”
A smarter man than I said that a long time ago, but in the five years we’ve been at this whole iStockphoto thing, I’ve certainly come to appreciate the truth of it. 2005 was a banner year for iStockphoto, with growth of truly unimaginable proportions. Indeed, the stock photography industry itself was an amazing and exciting thing to observe in the past year. Artists of every visual content discipline now have more opportunities than ever before, and we’re certainly proud of the hand we’ve had in the continuing evolution of the digital media landscape.
Since our humble beginnings whispering “iStockphoto” from a make-shift server room in 2000, we’ve enjoyed the open dialogue we’ve shared with you, our community. This five year old exchange of ideas has led us to great things, and has helped swell our family from a handful of wide-eyed contributors to an impressive army of leading-edge talent. Our commitment to forge new opportunities and pioneer new ideas through the unique partnership we have with our members has changed the industry and captivated the world. iStockphoto is the “little secret” nobody seems to have been able to keep.
As we enter year six, the question is not how to expand, it’s how to improve; how do we do this better? I want iStockphoto to rise above the volatility of mere competition and cement our rightful place in the world of digital imagery as global leaders in innovation and quality. With the kind of creative success we’ve enjoyed so far, we begin to aim higher. As we ascend, so too do our ideas, our philosophy and our members’ expectations of us.
Early in 2005, it became clear to me that we needed help financing our future, and we needed experienced guidance to help take us to the next level. I considered various sources of partnership and funding, exploring possible relationships with hi-tech venture capital firms, making great friends along the way. However, in making a decision for our future, it was important that it not be based on purely financial considerations – our passionate culture and independence were crucial, and from my perspective, non-negotiable. I also had to make the right choice for the continued development of our community, with a powerful partner that would nurture our evolution, respect our philosophy and provide leveragable resources.
Recently, in a rainy, sleepy suburb in Seattle, I met someone that shared my passion for iStockphoto and my drive to see it succeed. Over a greasy breakfast, he talked excitedly about how our community has created a new market, a culture of participation serving a vast audience. Our talk developed into a wide-ranging collaborative discussion about industry trends, size, consolidation and personal values. We dished a fair amount of gossip, too. After three hours passed in a blink, it was clear how naturally and sincerely our relationship was forming. We continued our dialogue as I detailed our community philosophy for site and feature enrichment, development of artist portfolios, international expansion, localized content and continuous improvement of our technology and methods. "This community is the most important development in the picture business this decade", he declared. Yes, Jonathan Klein understood us. He "gets it.”
In Getty Images, we have found our perfect partner. On February 9, in the early hours of the morning, iStockphoto agreed to join the Getty Images family, functioning independently with the benefits of Getty Images, yet, very importantly for them and us, autonomy. They will nurture and encourage our pioneering spirit so that our entrepreneurial culture will continue to thrive.
Through this union, iStockphoto will have the opportunity to leverage critical industry expertise and resources, expand internationally through the Getty Images presence worldwide, and offer localized support and content. We’re thrilled by the new possibilities this collaboration represents, and proud to add luster to the best-known image brand in the world. I know you’ll have questions, thoughts and concerns, and as always, I’ll be here to listen and respond.
Nothing’s going to change, and nothing’s ever going to be the same. We can’t wait to show you how.