Shutterstock 2017 Financial Results

Posted on 2/22/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Shutterstock has reported Q4 2017 revenue of $151.8 million up $21.7 million, or 16.6% on a constant currency basis, compared to $130.2 million in Q4 2016. The revenue was also up $10.78 million from Q3 2017. Revenue per download averaged $3.33 per image, an 11% increase over Q4 2016.

For the full year revenue was $557.1 million a 12.7% increase compared to 2016. About 27% of revenue, or roughly $150.4 million, was paid out in royalties to contributors in 2017. Income from 2017 operations decreased 42% to $26.3 million. Net income decreased 49% to $16.7 million. Adjusted EBITDA decreased 8% to $88 million.

Total download for Q4 were 43.9 million, up from 41.1 million a year earlier. For all of 2017 the company had a total of 172 million downloads, up 5.1 million, or about 3%, from 166.9 million in 2016.

At the end of Q4 Shutterstock had 170.1 million images in its collection up 55.8 million, or 46% more than were in the collection a year earlier. In addition, the collection contained 9.1 million video clips.

Full Year Results

The following chart provides a breakdown of E-commerce and Enterprise revenue for 2017 and comparative figures for 2016. About $52 million of the Enterprise revenue was generated in Q4 2017. Webdam, which Shutterstock has just sold, was responsible for $16.2 million of the $23.1 million of the Other Sales.

  2017 Percent 2016 Increase
  Revenue 2017 Revenue Relative
  (millions) Total (millions) to 2016
E-commerce $348.0 62.5% $328.3 6.0%
Enterprise $186.0 33.4% $150.0 24.1%
Other Sales $23.1 4.1% $16.0 44.4%
  $557.1   $494.3  

Future Outlook

The full year guidance for 2018 is $625 and $635 million or about 13% growth compared to 12.7% growth in 2017.


It was reported in Q2 2017 that Shutterstock had about 36,000 Enterprise customers. There is no indication that there has been a significant increase since then. Thus, the average Enterprise customer spends about $5,167 a year. Since it has been reported that a few Enterprise customers spend over $1 million a year, and a number spend quite a bit more than $5,000, that would indicate that there are a significant number of customers who spend much less than $5,000. Keep in mind that any customer can get up to 750 downloads a month for $2,388 a year. Consequently, there may be very few additional customers who might really benefit from an Enterprise deal.

Shutterstock also reported in Q3 2017 that they had 1.8 million total customers. That would mean that 1.764 million generated a total of $371.1 million for the company. Thus, on average these customers spend $210.37 a year.   

The company provided no information on the breakdown of footage and music revenue compared to that of still images. Based on previous reports, I estimate that footage and music might represent as much as $50 million of total revenue. At the end of 2017, the company has 9.1 million video clips in its collection.

About 38% of Q3 revenues were from the United States and Canada, another 31% from Europe and the remaining 31% from Asia/Pacific and Latin America.


The chart below shows some of the trends in downloads, images in the collection and revenue growth since Q3 2015. Video downloads are not included in this calculation. (For earlier data going back to Q1 2013 see here. The "Rev/Image" row is "the average revenue per image in the collection." For this figure I divide total revenue by the sum of still images.

  Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
  2015 2015 2016 2016 2016 2016 2017 2017 2017 2017
Downloads (millions) 38.1 39.8 41.2 43.4 41.2 41.1 43.5 42.7 41.9 43.9
Rev.per DL $2.76 $2.86 $2.77 $2.81 $2.91 $3.02 $2.96 $3.05 $3.23 $3.33
Images in collection 63.7 71.4 81.0 92.1 102.7 116.2 132 144.7 155.8 170.1
Total Rev. (millions) $107.3 $115.9 $116.7 $124.3 $123.1 $130.2 $130.2 $134.0 $141.1 $151.8
Rev/Image $1.68 $1.62 $1.44 $1.34 $1.20 $1.12 $0.98 $0.93 $0.90 $0.89
% Image Lic 60% 56% 51% 47% 40% 35% 32% 30% 26% 25%
    The "% Image Lic” row measures the odds that a single image in the collection will have been licensed one time within the quarter. To arrive at this number, I divide the total downloads by the number of images in the collection at the end of the quarter. This number is significant because it shows that new images are being added at a much faster rate than image downloads are increasing. For example, if a contributor had 1,000 images in the collection in Q3 2015 on average he would have had 600 downloads in that quarter. In Q4 2017 a collection with 1,000 image would have only had 250 downloads. Back in Q1 2013 a contributor with a 1,000 image collection could have expected to see 890 downloads in a quarter.


At the end of 2017, Shutterstock had over 350,000 contributors. It is important to note that at the end of 2016 they had just over 190,000 contributors. Thus, in one year the number of contributors have increased by 84%.

CFO Steven Berns said that 27% of revenue, or approximately $150.4 million, was paid out to contributors during the year. Thus, the average contributor earned $429.74 during the year, had 486 images in the collection and earned ($0.88) per-image in the collection. These figures are down from 2016 when the average contributor earned $728.42 during the year, had 612 images in the collection and earned $1.19 per-image.

One conclusion that might be drawn from these figures is that while an increasing number of contributors are giving Shutterstock a try, they tend to become disenchanted with the sales results earlier and on average are contributing fewer images.

This is particularly true when we consider that 2 contributors have more than 1 million images each in the collection and at least 5,112 have more than 5,000 images each (See here for more details). That means that significantly more than half the contributors have added less than 486 images to the collection.

Copyright © 2018 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

Jim Pickerell is founder of, 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:  


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