How Oringer Could Improve Creator Compensation

Posted on 12/16/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

If Jon Oringer of Shutterstock donated his annual salary of $4,598,580 to image creators who produce the products Shutterstock licenses, and divided it among creators based on the number of images licensed, how would that benefit image creators?

In the last 4 quarters Shutterstock has licensed 181,900,000 image uses at an average price of $3.55 each. If we divide 181,900,000 into the $4,598,580 that would give us $0.0252 (about two-and-one-half cents) per image licensed. Not very much, but pennies count. The average image creators only gets a royalty of about 26% of the $3.55 or $0.923 (less than $1.00) for each image licensed. An additional $0.0252 raises the royalty to $0.9482 (almost $0.95), almost a 27% royalty rather than 26%.

But, of course, Oringer is entitled to compensation to support himself and his family and for the work he has done over the years to build Shutterstock.

On the other hand, instead of receiving a salary couldn’t he sell some stock.

As of 1 December 2020 he owned at least 13,602,824 units of Shutterstock Inc stock. Today’s price for that stock is about $68.40 per share so the value of his stock is $930,433,162 -- almost $1 billion.  

Oringer became the first photography billionaire in 2013, but over the last few year the share price has faltered from time to time. At one point the share value was down to pautry $600,000,000. How could anyone survive on so little money?

Nevertheless, thanks to the 2020 economic crisis, as of 1 December 2020, his Net Worth was estimated to be in the range $1.2 Billion dollars. Over the last 7 years he sold SSTK stock worth over $271,824,319. Does he really need an additional $4,598,580 compensation? Maybe he could even give up twice or 3 times as much!

Currently there are about 370,000,000 million images in the Shutterstock collection, Thus, with 181,900,000 images licensed annually the average image creator has about one image licensed for every two images in the collection. There are about 650,000 contributors, Thus, the average contributor has about 569 images in the collection, licenses right to about 278 images annually and earns about $256.59.

Of course, there are a few contributors who have many more images-in-the-collection, a much higher ration of images-licensed to images-in-the-collection and they earn a lot more annually.
For them an additional $0.0252 per image licensed might be significant.

It is also worth noting that during the last year Shutterstock has grown its collection by 18%, saw a decline of 5.5% in the number of images licensed and about an 8% decline in revenue paid image creators.

In fairness to Oringer, this is how capitalism in the United States works. It is not unique to the photography industry. The person who comes up with a marketable product, or marketing idea, can benefit hugely compared to what those who put in time, energy and money receive. This is particularly true if the product costs the seller nothing to produce, and they can simply compensate the producer with a small percentage of revenue generated whenever the product sells.

Copyright © 2020 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 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


  • Richard Gardette Posted Dec 16, 2020
    Ah Jim, it's reassuring to see you taking a firm stand on the man who single-handedly managed to dramatically devastate an entire business... except for him and a handful of insiders.
    A new president, new opinions in the US ?
    If yes, this would be good news !

  • Bob Prior Posted Dec 17, 2020
    Very interesting points you have raised Jim. I especially liked the point about him selling stock to the tune of £271.000.000 which he was only able to do by benefiting from the creativity of the photographers on his site. I often note personal pr coverage but I wonder if he will respond to your points by commenting here? I guess we must wait to see what he says - if anything.

  • Tim McGuire Posted Dec 18, 2020
    CEO salaries and other compensation are often offensive and a disgraceful sign of the times. Creators need to stop giving them your creative work until they return to some sort of fair deal. It's disgusting what we let them get away with.

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