Getty's Flickr Agreement Ends Like Titanic
Getty Images, a Carlysle Group (NASDAQ: CG) company, today, announced a “notice to terminate” their relationship with Flickr as a source of images. What was launched in March of 2009, when Getty's editors were characterized by Flickr as “…inspired by the quality and creativity of our members….” (Building the Flickr Collection on Getty Images, 1/21/09) has now ended.
The parallel between the launch of the largest ship in the world, and it's eventual sinking because of poor stewardship is similar to Getty and Flickr, where arrogant captains in both settings think they know what they are doing. Getty, arguably the largest stock operation in the world, as the Titanic, ran into the immovable object that is the iceberg in the form of Flickr. Now as the executives of Getty stand amidst the musicians entertaining the unknowing on the aft decks, the ship is taking on water. It's only a matter of time before she breaks apart and sinks to unfathomable depths.
Of course the agreement didn't end before Getty sifted through, what they characterize as their having “…assessed over 90 million images, selecting 900,000 from 42,000 contributors as part of our Flickr collection.” Interestingly enough, using the $0.15 per image valuation factor Getty is said to use to value their collection, that's only a valuation of $135,000 over the course of 5 years. I am sure that they paid editors more than that to cull through all the images, so I'd count that as a bad business decision. Given they have two years to make up enough money to generate the $1,200,000,000 for their 2016 loan, the Flickr deal seems to have generated content that is a few zero's short of solving their problem. Consider that they had an existing pool of 9,000,000 images, which was a massive library of content for them to consider, and they still were only able to select 900,000 images. With that pool of images exhausted, and the relationship now terminated, they now have to look at the normal ingestion rates of images into their systems, and there does not seem to be any mathematical way that they can bring in enough images to satisfy the $1.2B loan that is coming due.
What's amazing is that, if you consider that they looked at 90,000,000 images, and they only came up 900,000, that's only a 1% success rate for a salable image from Flickr. Compare this to their stated production levels at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games – “our photographers captured 1,004,849 images, of which 52,362 were distributed to the world…” and you get a 5.2% ratio. Now, to be fair, I'm sure Getty wanted to report a figure higher than a million, so they likely counted the many times a photographer producing 12-14 frames per second used their camera's maximum capture speeds, so it's reasonable to consider that a 2 second burst producing 25 images would only produce 1-2 selects of the best image, however, they're boasting the numbers, so when you celebrate by the numbers you are subject to criticism by those same numbers.
We here at Photo Business News, in 2008 reported, in The Curious Case of Getty and Flickr (7/11/08) about much of the problems that the Getty deal with Flickr was for photographers. With Getty last week having culled through what they believe to be all the salable/valuable images, announcing their image embedding feature ( Monetizing Getty's 35M Image Archive via FREE Editorial Uses, 3/7/14) put them in competition with Flickr, which has a slideshow/embedding feature since 2007.
Statement by Getty Images re Flickr
Getty Images and Flickr have worked together for five great years, celebrating the originality of photography enthusiasts worldwide. Getty Images curators have assessed over 90 million images, selecting 900,000 from 42,000 contributors as part of our Flickr collection.
Getty Images has provided notice to terminate our existing agreement with Flickr. Our original agreement reached its end, and while we continue to be open to working with Yahoo!/Flickr, we do not have a new agreement at this time. We will continue to work with the tens of thousands of contributors and license the existing content.
Innovation and evolution are at the core of our work at Getty Images and we are continuously developing new technologies and tools to enhance our crowd-sourced imagery for our contributors and customers. We recently launched Getty Images Moment, our new iPhone app designed for contributors, as well as global content partnerships with EyeEm and Samsung. We look forward to announcing further developments in the coming months. Watch this space.
These developments are not surprising, however, they do indicate a continued flailing about as the Getty leadership team, who clearly not only don't get it but are also playing catchup in many other areas where they are behind. It's only a matter of time before Carlysle's investment turns out to be as ill-fated as the Titanic. Strike up the band for one more melody. Don't bother watching the crew scurry about for the lifeboats. Don't say you weren't warned.
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