Market leading microstock agency Shutterstock have today announced their acquisition of rival agency BigStockPhoto. In a brief press release, the company explains that the two agencies will continue to operate separately, but that Shutterstock will invest heavily in BigStockPhotos’s marketing, infrastructure and user experience. The announcement didn’t include any financial details.
A Nice Fit
While not equal in size or performance, the two companies complement each other well. Shutterstock is the leader in subscriptions and the only one of the top agencies to not offer credits. BigStockPhoto is the only one of the top agencies which doesn’t offer subscriptions.
Shutterstock CEO, Jon Oringer, says in the announcement, ‘This addition will enable Shutterstock to better satisfy the diverse payment preferences of stock photo buyers worldwide. Given the different payment models, it’s possible BigStockPhoto shares fewer customers with Shutterstock than any of the other top microstock agencies.
A Much Needed Boost
BigStockPhoto has always been a quiet but solid outlet for selling stock. For many years they’ve been considered to hold a firm grip in the top five agencies. However, in recent years most contributors experienced StockXpert moving into fifth position with the support of the Jupiterimages network. For the past six months, CanStockPhoto with the help of FotoSearch, has also surpassed BigStockPhoto in my earnings.
You can see the effect of BigStockPhoto’s falling appeal in the slower growth of their portfolio in this chart:
With the additional investment from Shutterstock, BigStockPhoto has a greater chance of resuming their position in the marketplace.
Likely Positive for Microstockers
Microstock photographers have welcomed the announcement. By keeping the two agencies separate, contributors won’t lose an outlet. Additionally, the extra investment in BigStockPhoto’s marketing, infrastructure and user experience will presumably lead to increased sales.
It’s probable that the bulk of any increase in sales will come at the expense of other microstock agencies. As BigStockPhotos’s commission rates are neither the best nor the worst, that could go either way for contributors.
Posted September 23rd, 2009 by Lee Torrens