A21 To Acquire Superstock

Posted on 5/2/2003 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



May 2, 2003

On April 24, 2003 a21, Inc. ("a21"), announced that it had signed a Letter of
Intent to acquire SuperStock, Inc. Earlier in the month the company had also
announced a Letter of Intent to acquire Nonstock.

A21 President Haim Ariav said, "We are extremely delighted to join forces with
SuperStock. The company and business that Bill Beermann and Jim Ong have built is
a natural fit with a21." "SuperStock is about excellence in customer service,
image collection and infrastructure. a21 is about excellence in photography.
Together, we can provide a new level of access to the best photographers,
artists, photography agencies and customers in the business. We look forward to
working with the highly talented team at SuperStock."

SuperStock ( www.superstock.com ) established itself in New York City in 1973 and
re-located to Jacksonville, FL in 1993. In addition to licensing work from
photographers and artists, the company owns an archive of more than 250,000
contemporary, vintage, historical and fine art images.

"The a21 business model and the support they have behind it made us quickly
realize we wanted to be involved with them," said Jim Ong, SuperStock CEO and
Co-Founder. "As our industry continues to evolve, we believe the a21 opportunity
will provide us with the strategy and resources to not only continue our success,
but make an even more meaningful difference to our photographers, artists and

Nonstock, Inc. ( www.nonstock.com ), is a
New York City based agency specializing
in high quality commercial and fine art photography. Nonstock was founded almost
8 years ago and, "our goal has always been focused on the highest quality images
from the best known photographers," stated Jerry Tavin, President of Nonstock.

Consummation of these two agreements is contingent upon the completion of
satisfactory due diligence, acceptable financing, and the execution of a
Definitive Agreement between the companies. Ariav said, "We believe we can close
both of these deals through the summer and possibly into the early fall, at the

A21 intends to continue to operate the two brands as separate companies. Ariav
said we will, "keep the brands separate and not dilute them, but allow them to
cross sell within themselves." He pointed out, "There will be an opportunity to
sell the Nonstock images through the SuperStock portal."

Moving forward they feel that Nonstock's "technology infrastructure can be
improved upon." They also expect to use some of the capital they bring to the
acquisition to "enhance SuperStock's technology," but in general they seem very
happy with SuperStock's portal and the way it operates. Ariav said, "We feel
SuperStock is a great company that has been run incredibly well. It is a good
time to get involved with SuperStock and build that company forward."

A21 was incorporated in October 1998. Initially, it was focused on building a web
platform to provide editorial photographers with a better way to market their
images. Neither SuperStock, nor Nonstock are known for their editorial images.
Ariav acknowledged that their early efforts had been aimed toward editorial and
pointed out, "The editorial market has shifted tremendously along with the fees
for stock images dropping. As a group we decided we would be more viable as an
entity if we focused on the commercial stock and assignment space."

Ariav and several of the board members also have a strong background in
photography. Ariav graduated from Brooks and started a career as a fashion
photographer. Got interested in the internet and founded Muffin-Head Productions,
a New Media agency that created and designed internet solutions for clients. He
later sold the company and is now "back doing both of my loves - technology and

Ariav said, "One of the models we have internally is that it is not going to be
all about stock. While sales of stock imagery is very important to us there are
other avenues that we will be looking at. We want to get into the
assignment/representation side of the business. Having been a photographer, "I
know how the process works," and he believes there are unexplored opportunities
to develop assignment work. "Nonstock could be a nice piece to build an
assignment representation business from. Jerry and his group are a tightly
focused group that is highly respected in the space. Art buyers can find what
they need through stock and assignments."

A21 also intends to commission stock photographers to create new content and pay
them a substantial day rate plus a smaller percentage of each sale. This is an
aspect of the business that SuperStock was very strong in at one point in the
company's development, but in recent years SuperStock has closed their studios
and moved away from creating content which they either wholly or substantially
owned. They made this decision because photographers were offering them so many
great images that they no longer felt the need to create wholly owned material.
"We're not going to get totally back into creating imagery, but we would like to
spend some resources and energy in creating original photography for our use,"
Ariav said.

A21 is a public company traded on the over-the-counter market with the symbol
ATWO.OB. You can also find more information about the company at
a21group.com .

Copyright © 2003 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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