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The evolution of iStock continues – an open letter from Brad Ralph, co-founder of iStock

September 2, 2014 • Company News

I am feeling pretty excited.  There are some big changes coming to iStock by Getty Images, changes that alter the face of the stock industry.

I’ve been here from the beginning back in early 2000 – when a group of us huddled in a small studio in Calgary decided to put images online for free instead of trying to sell physical copies of digital files. We saw a creative community grow around this radical idea and it was no time before people were uploading and downloading each other’s images. We decided to take it a step further to make it sustainable and began selling credits in 2002, creating the first crowd-sourced content business and pioneering the microstock industry along the way.

We’ve always liked to do things our own way and never been afraid of change, innovating and evolving over the years to service our customers and growing contributor community. Now counting 155,000 talented artists from 165 countries, our community is well over double that of our nearest competitor and we’ve paid out over $500M in royalties since we began. I am extremely proud of this and even more so of having a valued exclusive contributor base, whose entire portfolio of premium and unique stock content is available only from iStock and Getty Images. We are the only stock agency in the world to have this privilege and we value and foster those relationships, whether through the affiliate programme we introduced back in May or the iStockalypse events we have been holding around the world since 2005.

With the changes you are about to see on iStock, we are disrupting our current business model to go back to our roots, back to the basics. Simplifying is what we did best when we started – affordable prices and great content.  Content found only from iStock. We are adapting to the changing market the way we always have so customers don’t need to settle for the same commodity content available on all those other stock sites.

I firmly believe these changes will benefit the bottom lines of those producing compelling content. These changes place us in the best position to service the variety of content needs in the market. More customers need volume to make the most of their content budget, so we’ve introduced subscriptions. Other customers only have need for a single image purchase and we just made this easier and more compelling. The more content licensed, the more royalties returned.

After 14 years and two sales of the company I still love what we do at iStock, I enjoy working with the creative and talented community of contributors we have built up and I’m proud of the content we represent and what our customers create with it.  At iStock, and Getty Images as a whole, we live and breathe imagery. We know the power of imagery to change the world. For us, content and creativity are king – that’s where we start from. We recognize the craft, the talent and the artistry and we live for those moments when we see an image that is unique, compelling or simply amazing.

We will focus on great content at great value.  We will leave commodity and uninspiring to others.  I’m so excited to simplify and expand how customers across the globe can embrace our great content.

 

Brad Ralph

Senior Director, Content Development and co-founder of iStock

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