The Future Of Corbis

Posted on 10/30/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Rumors were flying in New York last week that Corbis may be sold. The rumors are that Shutterstock is interested in purchasing Corbis. The consensus seems to be that Corbis’ gross revenue is in the range of $100 million down from $225 in the mid-2000s. It is believed that about half of the gross comes from editorial and the other half from creative. (These figures may not include the rights clearance part of Corbis’ business.)

Shutterstock could use the Corbis Editorial division to expand on their acquisition of Rex Features and their relationship with Penske Media. Shutterstock believe that editorial is a significant potential growth area for them.

But, it appears that Corbis would like to hang onto Editorial and just sell the Creative segment of their business. Shutterstock has been expanding, and wants to continue to expand, the Enterprise segment of their business. Enterprise is aimed at offering higher quality, more curated material to customers at the top end of the market. This could fit in with their Premier collection that is only available for viewing by customers who have entered into Enterprise deals with Shutterstock.

It is a little difficult to figure out how this might fit in to Shutterstock’s current operations. Would the Corbis collection still operate as an open collection that anyone could view or would it only be available for viewing by Shutterstock enterprise customers as is the case with Premier? Of course the price for usage would be different for each enterprise customer, similar to Getty’s Premium Access.

While many contributors to Corbis might be upset with being associated with the Shutterstock name, it is unclear whether the prices actually charged for usages would vary much from what Corbis is currently charging.

Other Suitors

If Corbis is really up for sale, who else would be interested? I can’t imagine that Getty would be interested. Given their current financial situation I can’t see how they would come up with the money. And, even if they could, it doesn’t seem to me that adding the Corbis collection to the Getty collection would help Getty all that much. The main reason for Getty interest would be to keep the collections out of hands of Shutterstock.

But what about Adobe? Adobe has launched an Enterprise segment of AdobeStock and is certainly looking for better ways than a simple subscription to supply all the unique image needs of all their software customers. Offering some customers higher priced services would not be a problem as long as Adobe continued to offer the low priced subscriptions to the vast majority of their users.

Adobe would probably like to keep this asset out of the hands of Shutterstock, and could certainly afford to offer a more attractive price for the collection. Adobe would probably be more interested in acquiring the creative collection alone rather than the entire Corbis collection, but I’m guessing that if it were an all or nothing deal at the right price Adobe would be happy to take it all.

As far as I can see there is not other company currently in the industry with the resources to acquire Corbis, or even part of it. Moreover, I can’t imagine that anyone not currently involved in the industry would want to acquire Corbis.

Copyright © 2015 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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