Tony Stone Joins Microstock Company Vivozoom

Posted on 4/15/2010 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (5)

In a news certain to shock many a traditionalist, the godfather of stock photography Tony Stone has joined the executive management team of microstock newcomer Vivozoom. Stone will lead the company’s creative strategy.

Why Vivozoom? Stone and Vivozoom founders Lawrence Gould and Tom Donnelly share history: all three have put in time with Getty Images. Gould is a former Getty chief financial officer. Donnelly was the company’s vice president of e-commerce. Getty acquired Tony Stone Images in 1995, and Stone stayed on through 1999.

Vivozoom is also notable for having started a trend: it was the first microstock to legally guarantee its imagery with a $25,000 warranty. “Corporate buyers of images were shocked when they discovered that images from existing microstock businesses are not guaranteed legally safe to use,” said Gould at the time of Vivozoom’s launch to buyers a year ago.

Since then, leading microstock agencies followed suit. By October 2009, both iStockphoto and Shutterstock announced similar protection plans.

Stone’s mission at Vivozoom is to help make the image buying process inspirational and efficient, compared to competitive imagery that the company describes as often mediocre and irrelevant. “You don’t need millions of pictures, you need really effective images, beautifully shot, that you can use safely, at a low price. That’s what Tony did for Getty Images— and that’s what we are doing at Vivozoom,” explained Gould.

Indeed, the Tony Stone brand was the cornerstone of the Getty collection for many years. In 1999, the year that Stone left he company, Getty’s sales of the brand grew by more than 30% in the fourth quarter. More than a decade later, the company still offers two legacy rights-managed image brands: Stone and Stone+.

As to Vivozoom, the jury is still out. Stone told Microstock Diaries that the agency’s customer service and focus on “relevance, relevance, relevance” will ensure its success. Yet many have questioned whether a newcomer can succeed against more established, better financed segment leaders. From a pro photographer and traditional agency perspective, however, the more important question is: what does it mean when the man who invented traditional stock returns to the industry on the micro-payment side?

Copyright © 2010 Julia Dudnik Stern. 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


  • Bill Bachmann Posted Apr 15, 2010
    I feel badly about Tony doing that to the business. He should know more than most that the business model does NOT work for PHOTOGRAPHERS! It may work for agencies and of course it works WONDERFULLY for clients who get great images for almost free.

    I expected more from him. Guess he got his money when he sold his company and doesn't care about true photographers now. I personally would never try to ruin the business for the next generation of photographers for a few bucks (or even a lot of bucks!)

    Sad to me.

    Bill Bachmann

  • Karim Ezzat Posted Apr 16, 2010
    Tony Stone's decision will have very destructive consequences on the entire stock photo industry.

  • Bob Prior Posted Apr 16, 2010
    Why did Tony do it? I suspect he got bored. And bored people sometimes do strange, questionable things.

    Robert Prior

  • John Harris Posted Apr 16, 2010
    The move seems understandable to me - microstock is the growth area and he is an expert in that imagery. But surely The Hope in a "Good Emperor" at the top is always misplaced - as Bill Bachmann says the interests of the photographer and the interests of the large capitals are now in stark contrast and diametrically opposed.

    John Harris

  • Andrew Sacks Posted Apr 16, 2010
    This doesn't read like it's the same Tony Stone I know. His leadership and wisdom in shaping our industry (starting in the late 80's) were good for both his contributing photographers and his image-buying clients.

    I can't see how dressing up microstock photography in a new suit of clothes is going to benefit photographers. Maybe Tony can explian it. If nothing else, I'm willing to listen and watch.

    Andy Sacks

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