Getty Getting $90 Million From Bond Investors

Posted on 11/13/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

According to Bloomberg, Getty Images has found a way to raise a net $90 Million in an effort to revive its “Midstock” business.

Midstock is the term Getty invented to distinguish its iStock business (Thinkstock and are also included in the division) from other microstock offerings. At one point iStock prices were much higher than the rest of the microstock segment of the market, thus the lofty title. However, after repeated lowering of iStock prices that distinction is no longer justified, but still used.

How Has Midstock Been Doing?

Runor has it that Midstock losses are declining. In Q3 2015 gross revenue was “about $50 million” down only 8% from the prior year. In the two previous quarters revenue was down 10% and 15% respectively compared to a year earlier. Earlier this year Getty told investor that revenue declined 15% in Q4 2014 compared to Q4 2013 and that Q3 2013 was down 9.8% compared to the previous year.

It is interesting that Getty launched iStock subscriptions in April 2014 in an effort to compete with Shutterstock. iStock revenue has been declining ever since. Of course iStock revenue had also been declining long before they launched a subscription offering.

iStock subscription sales have definitely been growing, but rather than taking share from Shutterstock (and in the past six months AdobeStock) they are probably cannibalizing their own higher priced single image sales.

iStock’s new 10 images a month subscription price has now lowered the price of iStock’s Exclusive images to the same level as Shutterstock’s non-exclusive images and has priced their non-exclusive single image sales at $4.00 each, less than half of Shutterstock’s prices.

Where Did The Money Come From?

The company currently owes a group of bondholders about $550 million in unsecured bonds that pay 7% interest. Some of these bond holders have been convinced to swap some of their old obligations for new first-lean debt that will pay 10.5%.

Investors taking the deal will be exchanging old obligations that traded at 30 cents before news of the swap deal for new ones that rank as high as debt trading at about 68 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Geof Marshall, a portfolio manager at CI Investments Inc. whose firm owns some of Getty’s bonds told Bloomberg, “The incremental liquidity is positive but the incremental debt and interest expense are negative. I’m disappointed in the sponsor because growth capital is supposed to be equity.”

“Although cash balances would increase initially by roughly $90 million post-transaction, planned funding of growth investments and higher debt service will leave the company with only adequate liquidity and limited ability to reduce debt balances over the next 18 months,” Moody’s said in its report.

How Will Getty Use The Money?

Evidently Getty plans to use the cash, in part, to increase its marketing efforts and improve its image search.

Of the three major microstock image suppliers – Shutterstock, iStock and AdobeStock – iStock’s search engine is clearly the slowest and weakest. Shutterstock will spend over $100 million on sales and marketing in 2015 and there are strong indications that AdobeStock has been marketing more aggressively that Shutterstock in the last few months. For iStock $90 million may not be nearly enough.

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:  


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff