Shutterstock 2018 Financial Results

Posted on 2/26/2019 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Shutterstock has reported Q4 2018 revenue of $162.1 million up $6.7% compared to Q4 2017. (The comparison excludes the 2017 revenue from Webdam which was divested in Q1 2018.) The revenue was also up $9.5 million from Q3 2018. Revenue per download averaged $3.40 per image, compared to $3.33 in Q4 2017. (Much of this growth is probably due to increased sales of video content offered at much higher prices than still image content.)

Full year revenue was $623.3 million an increase of $66.1 million or 11.9% compared to 2018. About 26.7% of revenue, or roughly $166.4 million, was paid out in royalties to contributors. The average contributor earned about $256.15 during the year and would have had 392 images in the collection. But since 3,000 to 4,000 contributors have over 10,000 images each in the collection, and at least one over 1,000,000 images, the vast majority of contributors have significantly fewer images and earn significantly less.

Total image and video downloads for Q4 were 46.8 million, up from 43.9 million a year earlier, and 43.9 million in Q3 2018. For all of 2018 the company had a total of 179.6 million downloads, up 7.6 million, or about 4%, from 172 million in 2017.

At the end of the quarter the company had 241.7 million images and 13.1 million videos or 254.8 million pieces of content in its collection. In 2018 the collection grew about 49% from 170.2 million pieces of content at the end of 2017.

Currently, more than 650,000 photographers, videographers, musicians, artists and designers have contributed to the Shutterstock collection, an 85% increase in 2018 compared to 2017. The platform is now available to contributors in 21 languages, up from the previous 6 languages.

As of October Shutterstock’s editorial collection of over 40 million image has been made available to their e-commerce customers. They are adding on average more than 700,000 new editorial images every month. Their team provided coverage of over 1,100 entertainment and sporting events in Q4 2018.

The company has over 1,000 employees.


At the end of the quarter Shutterstock had about 1.9 million customers meaning that the average customer spent about $328.05 during the year. Given that $254.8 million of total revenue came from about 40,000 Enterprise customers the majority of e-commerce customers spend much less than $300 each annually.
Revenue generated through our e-commerce platform increased 10.0% as compared to the full year 2017, to $365.7 million, and represented 58.7% of total revenue in 2018. The e-commerce growth was the highest level since 2015. Revenue from enterprise customers increased approximately 22.1% as compared to 2017, to $254.8 million, and represented 40.9% of total revenue in 2018. Other 2018 revenue of $2.7 million was generated from Webdam.

About 34% of Shutterstock’s revenue was generated from sales in the U.S. Of the other 66% about half came from Europe and the rest from Asia/Pacific, Canada, South America and the Middle East. This spread seems to have been very consistent for a long time. None of the geographic areas are showing significant increases or decreases in terms of a percentage of overall revenue generated.


Income from 2018 operations increased 117.5% to $15.6 million. Net income increased 625% to $14.9 million. Adjusted EBITDA increased 45.6% to $33.9 million. Diluted EPS increased by $0.36 to $0.42 per share.

Income from Operations

Income from operations of $32.5 million increased $6.1 million or 23% as compared to the full year 2017, resulting from revenue growth outpacing operating expense growth. Operating expenses increased $60.0 million or 11.3%, primarily as a result of increased expenditures for royalties, sales and marketing, and costs associated with product development enhancements, partially offset by a decline in general and administrative expenses. The decline in general and administrative expenses was driven by cost management measures and a $2.0 million benefit from the reduction of our indirect tax accruals.

Future Guidance

Revenue for all of 2019 is expected to between $685 and $690 million. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be between $118 and $123 million, representing growth of 12% to 17%. Income from operations should be between $37 and $47 million. Capital expenditures, including capitalized labor, should be approximately $37 million and the effective tax rate should be in low to mid 20% range.

Commenting on the Company's performance, founder and CEO Jon Oringer said, "During 2018, we made significant progress towards our vision to provide an end-to-end creative platform that improves our customer and contributor experience. We saw customer and contributor engagement at an all-time high – both in the number of paid downloads and the number of approved contributors on our platform.

"I am encouraged by the steps we have taken to achieve our strategic objectives and by our continued revenue growth and margin expansion. We are focused on continuing to improve the efficiency, speed and performance of our platform; to evolve and personalize our customer and contributor experiences; and to motivate a talented global team to drive revenue growth and improved margins in 2019 and beyond."


The chart below shows some of the trends in downloads, images in the collection and revenue growth since Q2 2016. Video downloads are not included in this calculation. (For earlier data going back to Q1 2014 see here.) The “Rev Per DL” is the “Downloads” times the “Avg Rev per DL). This differs slightly from “Total Rev.” because a small percentage of revenue comes from other activities not associated with stock content downloads. The 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
  2016 2016 2017 2017 2017 2017 2018 2018 2018 2018
Downloads (millions) 41.2 41.1 43.5 42.7 41.9 43.9 43.7 45.2 43.9 46.8
Avg Rev per DL $2.91 $3.02 $2.96 $3.05 $3.23 $3.33 $3.40 $3.41 $3.40 $3.40
Images/video in collection 102.7 116.2 132 144.7 155.8 170.1 196.8 215.1 233 254.8
Total Rev. (millions) $123.1 $130.2 $130.2 $134.0 $141.1 $151.8 $153 $156.6 $151.6 $162.1
Rev. Per DL (millions) $119.89 $124.12 $128.76 $130.24 $135.34 $146.19 $148.58 $154.13 $149.26 $159.1
Rev/Image $1.20 $1.12 $0.98 $0.93 $0.90 $0.89 $0.81 $0.73 $0.65 $0.62
% Image Lic 40% 35% 32% 30% 26% 25% 23% 21% 18% 18%
    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 2016 on average he would have had 400 downloads in the quarter. In Q4 2018 a collection with 1,000 image would have only had 180 downloads. Back in Q1 2014 a contributor with a 1,000 image collection could have expected to see 800 downloads in a quarter.
Shutterstock ended the trading day at $47.97 per share, up 9.12%.

Copyright © 2019 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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