Shutterstock Reports $235.5 Million For 2013

Posted on 2/21/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Shutterstock has reported a record 28 million downloads and $68 million in revenue for Q4 2013. The company’s revenue for all of 2013 was $235.5 million, up from $169.6 in 2012. About 28% of the revenue was paid out to contributors in royalties.

The Shutterstock collection has grown to more than 33 million still images and over 1.5 million video clips. Revenue per download grew 6% year-over-year to $2.43. Currently the company has 345 employees and over 55,000 active contributors.

The growth in revenue per download was driven primarily by growth in enterprise sales and video footage licensing, both of which more than doubled between 2012 and 2013. Enterprise currently represents about 15% of total revenue, or roughly $10 million in Q4, 2013, while video represents between 5% and 6% of revenue, roughly $3.74 million in Q4 2013. Both carry a higher revenue-per-download than the company’s overall average.

CFO Tim Bixby said, “Adjusted EBITDA grew 37% to $15.4 million for the quarter, as compared to $11.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, primarily as a result of the significant revenue growth. This was offset by increased investment in sales and marketing and increased G&A expense. Adjusted EBITDA for the full year grew 53% to $53.4 million, up from $34.9 million in the prior year.”

Revenue And Download Trends

The chart below shows some of the trends in downloads, images in the collection and revenue growth since the third quarter of 2011. The bottom row is "revenue per image in the collection." For this figure we divide total revenue by the sum of still images and video clips since the video makes up a portion of the revenue.

  Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
  2011 2011 2012 2012 2012 2012 2013 2013 2013 2013
Download 14.8 16.2 17.6 18.3 18.7 21.4 22.3 24.3 25.4 28
Rev per DL $2.10 $2.14 $2.13 $2.22 $2.26 $2.30 $2.29 $2.33 $2.35 $2.43
Images 16.2 17.4 18.8 20.2 21.7 23.3 25 28 31.3 34.5
Total Rev $31.08 $34.67 $37.49 $40.63 $42.26 $49.22 $51.5 $56.8 $56.8 $68
Rev/ImCol $1.92 $1.99 $1.99 $2.01 $1.95 $2.11 $1.98 $1.96 $1.81 $1.97

Future Guidance

Revenue between $69 and $70 million is expected in Q1 2014. For all of 2014 revenue is expected to be between $305 and $310 million for a growth rate of roughly 32%. We also expect adjusted EBITDA between $68 million and $70 million, which gives us an implied margin at the high-end of the range of about 23% EBITDA.

According to Jon Oringer, CEO & Chairman, the company’s three key growth strategies are:
    (1)    increasing penetration in all markets foreign and domestic,
    (2)    investing in emerging content types, particularly video footage, and
    (3)    expanding our relationships with large enterprises, which they reach primarily through our enterprise sales team.

Enterprise Sales

When asked what causes these large organizations to pay more than the standard subscription rate Thilo Semmelbauer, President & COO said, “it's a combination of the license and the rights they get, the indemnification, the service, as well as the functionality that we provide. So as an example, agencies use a platform where they can download what's called comps for free. Comps are sort of full resolution files without watermarks that they can use in their discussions with clients in their workflow. And until their clients decide yes we want to use this image they're actually not paying for that.

“So now, when they do license that image it's going to be in the hundreds of dollars per image. So that's a very different type of workflow that's very suited to the agency market. And I won't go through all the other categories but it's an example of how we've customized our offering for publishers, large corporations, agencies. And the price point for image varies based on some of those suites of things.”

Enterprise sales are expected to continue to grow, but not as rapidly as in 2013. It is projected that at some point these sales might reach 20 to 25% of revenue.


Video clips range in price from $19 for web use to $49 for an SD file and $79 for an HD file. According to Oringer the average price of a video clip is about $60. Thus, if video revenue in Q4 2013 was about $3.74 million there would have been approximately 62,333 video downloads or less than 2/10th of 1% of all downloads for the quarter.

Also, keep in mind that the average price of a subscription download is somewhere around $1.35, significantly less than the price of a video clip.

Subscription Sales

In the past it was reported that 60% of the sales were subscription and 40% were single image and enterprise. With the growth of enterprise and video there is some indication that subscription sales now only represent about 50% of revenue, but that was not confirmed during the conference call. If that is the case then in Q4 2013 about $34 million of the $68 million would have been for subscription sales. Enterprise and video sales would represent about $14 million leaving about $20 million in revenue for Image On Demand and Extended Licenses.  

The company spent about 24% of its revenue, or roughly $57 million on marketing in 2013.

Offset is out of beta, but not generating significant revenue. When talking about the Skillfeed and Facebook initiatives they say it is “early days.” When talking about projected 2014 revenue from these initiatives they say, “we’ve factored in something greater than zero for guidance, but certainly not a significant amount.”

Conference Call

During the conference call with investment analysts one questioner pointed out that some of Shutterstock’s competitors are offering more competitive royalties and asked if that was something Shutterstock should consider.

Oringer said, we’ve seen some of out competitors come in and try offer a higher royalty.
“What happens is if they payout more to contributors, they leave less room for marketing spend and that causes less sales in the long run and less payout to their contributors. So with this we really found the sweet spot over the past 10 years with the subscription plan, with the 30% payout, and competitors have come and gone and tried different things but we haven't seen much change.

Another questioner noted that one of Shutterstock peers (Getty) had increased their sales and marketing quite a bit in the third quarter and asked if that was having any impact or if they expected any “competitive pressures in 2014.”

Oringer replied, “As far as competitive changes and marketing changes from our competitors we haven't seen that much change over the past few years. Our competitors have tried different types of marketing channels they've tried different types of creatives and we've iterated ourselves also. But the great thing about the model we have the high volume subscription model is that we have a lot more data to use to continue to iterate and to get better and better with our marketing effort and we haven't seen much change in our cost for acquisition or retention metrics.”

Copyright © 2014 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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