Press Releases 19

Posted on 5/23/2006 by Mele Stemmermann | Printable Version | Comments (0)



May 23, 2006

a21 Acquires ArtSelect - Provider for Wall Decor and Fine Art

a21, Inc. has acquired ArtSelect, Inc., an Iowa based provider of online technology and fulfillment infrastructure for retailers in the custom framed Art and Wall Decor market. a21 paid $4.5 million in cash, $2.35 million in three year 6% interest only notes, $3.15 million in a21 Series A Convertible Preferred shares (with a conversion floor of $0.75 per a21 common share), and a four year warrant to purchase 750,000 a21 common shares at $1.00 per share. ArtSelect earned revenue of approximately $12 million in 2005 and is expected to increase a21 revenue by approximately 100%.

ArtSelect (, founded in 1998, provides private label online technology and fulfillment infrastructure to catalogers, retailers and distributors to allow them to offer custom framed art to their end-customers through its unique online custom frame shop. With its proprietary technology platform and current collection of over 30,000 image selections, ArtSelect provides its retail partners with an efficient and effective web-based retail solution for their end-customers. ArtSelect addresses the highly fragmented $35 billion Art and Wall Decor market in which over 50% of households purchased products last year. Its operations and approximately 65 employees are based in Fairfield, Iowa, and its products are sold primarily through catalogers, retailers and distributors for which it sets up turn-key private label customized websites.

"We believe ArtSelect has built a unique business model which is not currently available in the Art and Wall Decor market. We plan to leverage their model with our ever increasing base of over one million images from our SuperStock and Ingram subsidiaries, and especially those selections from our Fine Art and Vintage collections," said Thomas V. Butta, a21 Vice-Chairman and President. "In addition, we believe ArtSelect's outstanding management team will work well with our team at a21 to enhance our ability to capitalize on this expanding market."

Jerry Oliver, Vice President and General Manager of ArtSelect, added, "We are truly excited about the deal with a21. Their extensive content archive and experienced management team should provide immediate benefit to ArtSelect. We believe that ArtSelect's core infrastructure strengths and extensive client base will create strong cross-selling opportunities for a21's images. In addition, a21 has a solid board and investor group, which we think provide an excellent platform for support and future growth."

Corbis and Mike Watson Images Announce Content Partnership

Corbis ( a leading provider of image licensing and related services, has announced a partnership with Mike Watson Images (MWI). Under the terms of the partnership Corbis will immediately represent MWI's entire collection of royalty-free images and will expand to represent their rights managed collection by the end of the year.

"Mike Watson has been one of the most creative and successful producers of royalty-free imagery over many years, and his new company brings exciting new RF content that really addresses the creative needs in the marketplace," said Gary Shenk, Corbis senior vice-president of images. "This new partnership is just another example of Corbis' commitment to provide its customers with the greatest breadth, depth and quality of images possible."

"My experienced team and I are fully committed in our continuing quest to raise the quality bar in the royalty-free segment. It is refreshing to find a global company like Corbis that understands creative needs and is committed to preserving artistic and creative quality," says Mike Watson, CEO, Mike Watson Images. "With Corbis global distribution network and their commitment to quality and service, this partnership was a natural fit."

Mike Watson Images' RF content is immediately available for licensing through Corbis rf SHOP website.

Corbis Appoints Ross Sutherland Chief Creative Officer

Corbis ( has appointed Ross Sutherland to the newly created position of Chief Creative Officer. Sutherland who has won numerous awards for his print advertising had until recently been Executive Creative Director / Managing Partner at Young & Rubicam New York.

"Ross has been one of the top art directors in the advertising business for many years, and he is uniquely qualified to fill this position," said Gary Shenk, Senior VP Images, Corbis. "He has the creative firepower and global experience to help move Corbis even further out in front of the $2 billion digital image market."

Sutherland will oversee the company's sourcing of creative imagery on a global basis. He will also manage a Global Creative team which includes production and photography from Corbis and its wholly owned companies zefa and Image 100.

In addition to actively sourcing new content Sutherland will archive and manage Corbis' various Creative photography collections. Sutherland began his advertising career as an art director in New Zealand and was creative director of Ogilvy & Mather offices in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Kenya, San Francisco and New York.

"I have advocated the importance of powerful images with the zeal of a missionary all my life," Sutherland said. "It is difficult to imagine a more perfect or a more exciting opportunity."

Masterfile To Launch Radius Images, New RF Collection

Masterfile has created the Radius collection as a premium royalty-free product, available as single images only and capable of commanding a premium price. Radius will launch with 15,000 high-quality, contemporary images growing to 50,000 within the first year. The primary source of images for Radius will be the contributing photographers of Masterfile, augmented by custom productions directed and financed by Masterfile with photographers, talent and locations around the world. Radius press images are available now at ( A preview of the collection will be available at ( on May 29, 2006.

To ensure its success, Masterfile has recruited Kathleen Canales as Channel Manager for Radius Images. She will be responsible for establishing and managing a network of international distributors. Kathleen is based in Jacksonville, Florida, where she was formerly Global Channel Director for SuperStock.

Masterfile is seeking representation of Radius Images in the global marketplace. Distributors attending CEPIC will have the opportunity to preview the Radius collection and discuss distribution agreements with Kathleen and other senior representatives of Masterfile including Steve Pigeon, Geoff Cannon and Tomas Speight.

Steve Pigeon, President of Masterfile says "You can expect the extraordinary from Radius. We aim to set a new benchmark for the royalty-free industry with wonderful images encompassing a complete range of subjects, from brilliant lifestyles to spectacular scenics." He adds, "Based on our years of experience in the stock industry, I have no doubt that Radius will be very well received by art directors and designers throughout the world and with Kathleen on deck we'll make sure of it!"

MediaVast Completes $15 Million Series C Round of Financing

MediaVast, Inc. ( has closed a $15 million Series C round of equity financing led by QVT Fund LP, a new investor in the privately-held, New York-based company. Also participating in this round were previous key investors Time Warner Investments and Baroda Ventures (led by GeoCities' founder David Bohnett), as well as several strategic and individual investors, such as SBE Entertainment Group.

Jason Nevader, CEO and Co-Founder of MediaVast, commented: "To have recurring and new investors entrust MediaVast with their support is truly validating to us. In the coming months, we see MediaVast as uniquely positioned to capitalize on a public appetite for entertainment and sports photography, which shows no sign of abatement. International markets and potential acquisitions will receive enhanced attention."

The infusion of capital comes at a key juncture in MediaVast's accelerated development. In five short years, the Company has aggregated a library of nearly seven million visual assets comprised of high-quality, ready-to-publish digital images and video clips, brokered deals with major sports leagues, developed a distinctive stock photography offering and launched a video division. Today, over 2,600 photographers worldwide contribute images to MediaVast's library, which are in turn licensed by print and online media, advertising agencies, broadcast networks, mobile carriers, communication agencies and other publishing enterprises. The Company has also successfully ventured into areas as diverse as high-end celebrity photography syndication and mobile content development.

A strategic participant in this round was SBE Entertainment Group, a Los Angeles-based hospitality and lifestyle company which comprises five divisions encompassing hotels, restaurants and nightclubs, events, real estate and film.

Commented SBE CEO Sam Nazarian: "We are very excited to participate in this round of financing for MediaVast, particularly given their increasing focus on targeting the business-to-consumer sector. SBE offers a valuable network of consumer touch points for MediaVast to leverage, and we look forward to creating important synergies with their brands."

Stock Photo Finder Launches in UK ( is launching its stock photo search engine in the United Kingdom. It is a professional search tool that aggregates into a single search result the visual content from a large variety of independent photo agency web sites.

Capture Ltd -- the leading UK supplier of integrated image library management systems -- is supporting and collaborating with StockPhotoFinder by building compatibility into its Capture Web systems.

This new technology promises to save time for advertising, corporate and editorial buyers of photography by using a single search engine to quickly satisfy their needs for visual content instead of doing multiple searches at many different web sites of stock photo libraries, photographers and other image sources. Content can be searched by keyword, caption or by a "similars" search process. The engine facilitates the finding of visual content and transfers the users to the various web sites that represent the images. The licensing is handled directly between the user and the content sources, which are professional business-to-business licensing agents.

Company president, Randy Taylor, points out the value of aggregated search. "If you are a professional researcher for whom time is money," he says, "why use your time to search two to twenty or more web sites, when a single engine can search them all at once?"

Applying its advanced search technology to the vertical market of photo research and marketing, the search engine offers industry-specific tools that make searching for stock photography both effective and efficient. Users benefit from unlimited lightboxes that enable selection, editing and sorting of photos from all web sites that the company "spiders" for content. Notes can be added to each image in the lightbox and both can be emailed to co-workers or clients for approval or review.

The stock photo search engine is uniquely designed to spider databases, which are most often used to archive visual content. Image providers must have an accessible database to participate. To support the marketing needs of images suppliers in the United Kingdom who are not yet searchable on the web, StockPhotoFinder has established a preferred vendor relationship with Capture, Ltd., which is a leading UK supplier of integrated image library management systems. ( offers fully searchable web systems for all sizes of business and budget, from photographers and small libraries, through to the complex needs -- including pricing and e-commerce -- of large agencies. Capture's systems include keywording and thesaurus tools that are integrated with a comprehensive back-office system that handles everything from invoicing and accounts to customer relationship management and business efficiency tools. Capture also has a high-end scanning department.

By participating in, image providers benefit from collective marketing and built-in functionality that facilitates client sales leads and requests, direct licensing and marketing research derived from data mining. Direct communication between the content licensee and the image provider is supported in various ways. A Quote Request function exists for users to ask for pricing for one image or simultaneously, for all images in a lightbox. A Research Request option provides the user with the ability to send a list of photo needs to all image providers in the site in one action. A hot button links directly to the source from each thumbnail image. And, a Universal Registration Application form enables sign-up of new users across the searchable network.

Special functionality also exists for customized versions that are installed at closed corporate sites for their internal research. Corporations can mix search of their internal visual content with search results from any content providers they choose to include. This Digital Asset Management capability enables corporations to monetize their digital assets, maximize preferred vendor relationships and increase cost efficiencies through labor cost savings.

The stock photo search engine for the United Kingdom is a service of New York based, Inc. Over 800,000 users have accessed millions of photographs at this sister site at

Search services at are free for users who desire to license content. The company receives revenue from marketing fees paid by content providers to have their web sites "spidered" for search, from advertising at its web sites that appears in clearly defined areas, and from customization fees paid for corporate installations. Search results are "natural" or "organic" without any prioritization by content provider., Inc. is the premier company using advanced technology to search multiple, stock photo and footage databases via the Internet through its web sites at, and

For more information about, please contact Randy Taylor, President of, Inc., at (212) 929-6965. For more information about Capture, Ltd., please contact Abbie Enock at +44 (0)1491 873197 or email capture @

Digital Railroad Expands Collaboration with the PLUS Coalition

Digital Railroad, Inc., has announced that it has increased its involvement in the PLUS Coalition, from Advisor to a Charter Sustaining Member and part of the elite PLUS Leadership Circle. Digital Railroad is the trusted provider of technology and services for the global community of buyers and sellers of professional imagery. The PLUS Coalition is a non-profit organization focused on clearly defining and standardizing the core aspects of image licensing and its management. This collaboration furthers each entity's goal of streamlining the licensing process between image buyers and sellers worldwide.

"We look forward to our increased contributions to the PLUS Coalition's important charter of simplifying and facilitating the licensing of images," said Evan Nisselson, founder and CEO of Digital Railroad. "Image licensing has historically been a complex and confusing process. As the worldwide image market expands, it's imperative that licensing becomes straightforward and works smoothly for all involved. The PLUS Coalition has made amazing progress in making global image licensing easier, and we're honored to become part of this collaboration of respected companies, associations and industry experts."

"We're pleased to welcome Digital Railroad to the PLUS Coalition's Leadership Circle, reserved for industry leaders contributing the highest level of financial and logistical support towards the development of the PLUS image licensing standards," said Jeff Sedlik, CEO of the PLUS Coalition. "Digital Railroad's growing and diverse international community of photographers, agencies and buyers, all using Digital Railroad's technology and services to license images, is a microcosm of our increasingly global marketplace, and is exactly the type of community that the PLUS standards are designed to serve. Clearly, Digital Railroad and PLUS share the same goal: making the business of licensing images better for all involved."

Marshall Buys Imagestate

The founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Imagestate, Sheldon Marshall has acquired the assets and brand of Imagestate, the International online rights managed and royal free content provider. Sheldon is the Executive Chairman of the Heritage
Partners, which has content collections such as ( and ( Sheldon has considerable expertise and experience in the media sector and Internet trading, which has been acknowledged by two Queens' awards for Export. From 1984 - 2000 he was the CEO of Visual Communications Group (United News and Media plc) that was acquired by Getty Images plc in 2000 for $220 million.
In 2001 he founded and established Imagestate plc, before acquiring and developing Heritage Partners.

Sheldon said, "Imagestate adds an additional dimension to the content collections of Heritage, it has great photographers and we are excited about the challenges moving forward and the development of Imagestate as an international image production and sales company.

Imagestate will be expanding its Rights Managed and Royalty Free content offerings as well as increasing its worldwide agency network. Over the coming months Imagestate will be focused on the development and distribution of content and especially the formation of strategic partnerships worldwide.

Copyright © 2006 Mele Stemmermann. 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


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