25 Jun 2015 Twenty20 Review

Twenty20 is one of the latest mobile photography marketplaces competing in the space.

It started life in 2012 as a printing service for Instagram users, called Instacanvas, then pivoted into the digital content licensing agency we know today as Twenty20. The transformation was completed this year with a complete rebrand, $8M in new funding, and launching the new licensing platform with 45 million images.

Who’s Behind It

Matt Munson, serial entrepreneur, is co-founder & CEO of Twenty20. He’s also the one behind the eye-roll inducing Death of the Stock Photo article.

The company currently has 20 employees, but with the new funding is expanding to include a legal team, among other new positions.


What’s To Know About Twenty20?

The pre-pivot experience as Instacanvas was lucrative.  It gave them insight into the space and experience building for the mobile photography market.  It also provided them with a “community” and 45 million images.

If you were wondering how they came to have so many images at launch, you aren’t alone.  Those images came from the connected Instagram accounts of people who used the printing service.

So now you’re wondering how they can sell licenses for images that were only submitted for printing.  Well, Matt was thinking ahead.  All the people who used the print service gave permission for their images to be licensed when they signed up.

Obviously that raises a lot of other questions:  are these images suitable for licensing?;  what about releases?;  what about reviews?; and, what about metadata?

That’s why the company is hiring a legal team – to go through the images and review them for these issues.  They promise a 24-hour response if a customer wants to license an image that hasn’t yet been reviewed.  Presumably they also get keyworded as part of this process.

Matt says all 45 million images are online and indexed, but there are a lot missing metadata as searches return very small quantities.  A search for the keyword “beach” produces 108,000+ results on Twenty20, but 960,000 on Dreamstime who claim 33 million images, and over a million results on iStock who don’t share total figures anymore but are surely still well under the 45 million Twenty20 claims.

When raising capital and marketing themselves, they choose to position themselves as competitors for Getty Images and other big stablished stock agencies, rather than to similar mobile photo startups with the same business model such as EyeEm, Scoopshot and Snapwire.

After the series A funding this year, they officially closed the physical print business and are focusing on improving web and app development. One remarkable move is they are adding an in-house legal team to review/vet every image in their platform, to ensure authenticity and legal security of licenses. They are aiming to lure all big brands that avoided crowdsourced stock photos until now because of the legal risks.



Like similar mobile stock agencies, they offer image collections, enable buyers to set “challenges” for contributors to submit specific content on demand, and they also have a sort of assignment work service, where they act as intermediary if a buyer wants to hire a particular contributor. Twenty20 takes no share in the revenue of the resultant contract for challenges and commissioned work.

Their earnings are mostly entitled to subscriptions sales. These plans are monthly based, but they’re billed annually. All of them are full service, they just differ in the amount of images each allows to get. Subscriptions are $199 and $499, and there’s also an Enterprise plan for $1499.  Subscription royalties are a low 20%.

Single image purchases are available as well, ranging from $10 to $50 depending on file size. Royalties are a generous 80% for on-demand sales.

To become a Twenty20 contributor, one can submit images to the platform either from web or the mobile app.  They do not support bulk submission, but they do accept both mobile and non-mobile photos.

All submitted images are reviewed in terms of quality and legal security. The review team also curate accepted content into collections.  To be featured in a collection means greater exposure and chances to sell. They have a special Signature collection (sound familiar?) for their “most sellable photos” which is the primary target for contributors.


Twenty20 are entering a crowded market, competing directly with other well-funded companies in the mobile stock space, as well as all the established giants they claim are their main competition.  Those giants also have their own apps feeding mobile-shot photos into their collections.

If you’re shooting stock on your mobile, Twenty20 probably doesn’t yet have the traction necessary to hold your attention by itself, but might not be a bad option to have in your arsenal.  The subscription royalty is low, but at least it’s a percentage rather than a flat fee.  And the 80% royalty for on-demand sales, if there’s volume, is great.  But in this market royalties are nothing if the agency can’t produce a good sales volume.

Do you have any experience with Twenty20 yet?

  • Holgs
    Posted at 00:22h, 30 June Reply

    So how many of those that signed up to print their instagrams are aware that they gave over the right to license their whole portfolio of images to a successor of the company? How many of the 250K photographers that they claim authorisation from are even aware that their images are now for sale there? I wonder if the NBA or the thousands of other sports venues who’s events can be found for license on the site gave their consent? Maybe they should have started with the legal team before rolling this out. $8M in funding isn’t really a lot in this space, considering the obvious areas of liability that they’ve already exposed themselves to.

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 23:58h, 30 June Reply

      Thanks for the excellent legal insight Holgs!

  • Jon Yau
    Posted at 11:16h, 30 June Reply

    On the topic of death of/to stock photos, can one make requests on MicrostockDiaries? If so, Lee can you do a piece on unsplash? (BTW your search button doesn’t work on Chrome)

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 23:55h, 30 June Reply

      One may certainly make requests, and the best will certainly get responses. Thanks for the tips.

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