Those who actually have brain-cells functioning realize that the production of quality images - consistently and over the long term - is best left to the professionals. Surely, the Infinite monkey theorem applies to microstock - and that non-starter that is being referred to as mid-stock. Yes, NotSo-LuckyOliver tried to parlay the "we're not microstock" approach into something.
What did their investors want?
Why, a big cash payout, of course! Investors like to see large dollars as a return on their investment. When they see their one potential big buyer going private, and a wait-and-see attitude on the other players in the market, that burn-rate must have gotten scorchingly hot, and they decided to cut their losses.
I just can't see my way clear to feel sorry for the people who are losing their jobs, or losing their image outlet. They are just one player in a segment of the industry that has been doing damage to the profession of photography. It's a nice idea - (nearly) free images for all, but like communism, the economic viability of both is doomed from the beginning.
As they fall, photographers will respond - "see, I told you so..." Those that remain will utter that, at-least. Those that have left the profession will only shake their heads, wishing the microstock demise would have come sooner so that they could have remained photographers.
Bryan Zmijewski wrote on his blog:
"We spent the last year looking for the funds to grow LuckyOliver because, without the addition of significant capital, the return on investment for LuckyOliver and its contributors would not be satisfactory. After reviewing the options, the investment team decided that it was in the best interest of all stakeholders to shut the company down."Let's re-phrase that, shall we? Try clearing out the nice-speak and saying:
"the investment team didn't see it as smart to pump more money into a failing business model, so they decided to cut their losses, and hobble home licking their wounded pocketbooks."Even Bryan notes that he was pursing "...a passion that often went beyond reason."
I am not convinced that there will always be a robust microstock industry. How many redundant servers can continue to run with a significant staff to take orders and collect $1 here, and $4 there? I expect that iStockphoto will, in some shadow of it's former self, remain. Jupiter will likely collapse under it's own weight - and the fickle demands of shareholders who no longer see this industry as meeting the growth that they want for their own return on investment. Further, the novelty will wear off for many of the amateurs, and the demands for releases and indemnifications of Corporate America by judgement proof individuals, followed by the lawsuits that inevitably will quash this field, will just poison the well.
One of the primary problems from a cost standpoint is the cost of maintaining customer call centers. Corporate America has wrongly outsourced that to India, and many are reeling from that stupid move. These costs, both needed to service contributors as well as the paying customers, along with IT upgrades will be what makes these models worse than risky.
We photographers, those still standing in the aftermath, will be left to pick up the pieces. And we will.
Those UnLucky "Olivers" are headed elsewhere already, as noted here. From iStockphoto, to fotolia, Crestock, to all the rest of the soon-to-be gone shops. Let the dominoes continue to fall!
To those doing this industry harm, I shall applaud as you fail. If you are contributing images to these organizations, I can say that what goes around comes around, and, to be sure, karma's a bitch.
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