Klein Steps Down As Getty Images CEO

Posted on 3/13/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Jonathan Klein, Co-Founder and CEO of Getty Image, has stepped down as CEO 20 years to the day after he and Mark Getty founded the company.

Klein will continue as chairman and will remain instrumental in determining strategy, direction and vision for Getty Images. As Klein transitions into his new role as Chairman the company is expected to “expand its footprint in the consumer space.”

This move paves the way for a new CEO to lead day-to-day operations, but no one has been named to replace Klein and there is no indication that anyone in the company has been groomed for this position.

Klein said, “Getty Images has a 20 year history of leadership, disruption and innovation and we look forward to a strong and successful future. We continue to build on the success of recent changes implemented in our market-leading midstock business and are eager to fulfill the potential of a more consumer-facing strategy. With a strong leadership team in place, the time is right for me to transition to the role of Chairman.”

The “recent changes” in the midstock business resulted in a 9.8% decline in midstock revenue in Q3 2014 compared to the previous year and a 15% decline in Q4 2014. Many iStock image creators have reported 40%, or more, decline in January 2015 royalty payments compared to a year earlier. Almost 50% of iStock top earners who have, on average, 5,245 images in the iStock collection have added fewer than 100 images per contributor in the past two years. Twenty-three percent of them have added no images or removed images. Thus, the contributors who have experienced the greatest success are giving up. This doesn’t take into account all the contributors with more marginal success that have also dropped out. It is hard to understand how Klein can qualify the recent changes at iStock as “success.”

As part of the “expan(sion of) its footprint in the consumer space” Getty has launched a new look for www.gettyimages.com, which enables seamless sharing of content and introduces hand-curated “best of” galleries. It is designed for people who are passionate about photography and Getty says, “the new experience caters to the 97 per cent of visitors to www.gettyimages.com who enjoy viewing the world’s best imagery, rather than licensing for commercial or editorial purposes.”  

The home page of the new site also encourages “embedding” of 50 million of the images in the Gettyimages collection and directs customers to iStock as well as subscription and custom discount deals.

Despite some successes in the Editorial and Video segments of the business, gross revenue generated by Getty Images in 2014 was about the same as in 2007.

Getty Family And Carlyle Group Still Support Klein

A trust representing the Getty family continues to holds approximately 49% of the company and Klein says, “They have never sold a single share.” In 2008 Getty Images was acquired by Hellman & Friedman for $2.4 billion. In 2012 the Carlyle Group paid $3.3 billion for approximately 51% of the company. Revenue has declined every quarter since the Carlyle purchase.

Mark Getty, Co-Founder and Chairman, Getty Images said, “Jonathan and I could not be more proud of where Getty Images is today. From digitization to e-commerce, crowd-sourced imagery, keyword and image search technologies, visual trend expertise and novel content partnerships, Getty Images, the biggest player in the visual content business, continues to embrace disruption and drive the global industry forward. Jonathan has successfully and passionately driven our company forward for 20 years as CEO. He moves on to his new role at a time when Getty Images is in strong shape and well placed to continue to lead.”

Eliot Merrill, Managing Director, The Carlyle Group, said, “Jonathan built Getty Images into an iconic global brand. We support his move to Chairman and we are pleased he will continue as our partner once a new CEO is named. We are excited about Getty Images’ future and look forward to fostering the continued growth of this remarkable company.”

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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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