Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Getty Images - Moving Forward

Getty Images (NYSE: GYI) is a lot of things. Right now, they are on the chopping block, having just left the auction block, with, as the AP reports (Regulators OK Getty Images' $2.1B Buyout, 3/18/08), "Antitrust regulators have cleared private equity firm Hellman & Friedman LLC's $2.1 billion purchase of Getty Images Inc., a federal agency said Tuesday."

The company that has acquired them, Hellman & Friedman, is known for stripping down the company to increase margins on the profitable divisions, and killing off those that are not, and then dumping it - yes, for a profit. They don't do this for all their aquisitions, of course. But, they are not likely to remain in the photography business as a purveyor of images. So, what's going to go?

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1) The Getty wire service is the least profitable division, and I think that, without much of the re-sales that they get, that figure might even be worse. It takes a great deal of staffing and often a shot-in-the-dark mentality when assigning coverage. In DC for example, there are many many events, and it's very had to know just what to cover. I don't envy the editors who have to make that decision. Note though, this challenge is not unique to Getty. AP, Reuters, and AFP all face similar challenges. Bloomberg is, to a small degree, immune from this, only because they are a essentially a niche wire service, covering events from a financial aspect. They are not trying to be all things to all people. Yet, Getty's wire service will likely go first.

2) The Getty editorial department. I've spoken with a few folks smarter than me on this, and there seems to be some agreement here, that this department too will be trimmed to within an inch of it's life, and may just get cut altogether. The reason? The margins are just not where they should be.

What does this leave? Oh, of course, iStockphoto, and their commercial/corporate division. Getty actually does have the potential to generate huge sums from the commercial division with all the advertising sales, exclusivity up-charges, and so forth. In addition, most anytime you can get an assignment out of someone, that's going to be fairly profitable, especially with the unfair percentages they are paying out.

In addition, Getty's sports contracts for the leagues will continue to bring them money, but more as an arm of the leagues as a distribution channel. Same for entertainment clients, more in LA and NYC than anywhere else, where event promoters want a distribution channel there as well that have the eyeballs of the entertainment news media to get pickup from their events. But, wait, isn't that editorial? Nope. When a corporate client pays you $5k to cover and event that has a few celebrities in attendance, and then you put those photos up from the arrivals area with a step-and-repeat backdrop with the clients' logo, or you are the "inside exclusive photographer" getting great photos that will look good for the commercial client, and these happen to appear in editorial coverage, that's commercial/corporate, not editorial!

Did you catch that above, I said "distribution channel" twice, for two distinct divisions? That's right friends, Getty will become a distribution channel for corporate America more so now than ever before. These are, after all, extremely profitable. Sure, they have some great archive materials, from acquired collections, but that, along with good margins elsewhere will make Getty attractive as a private acquisition.

By who? Probably Corbis.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Speedlinks 03/18/07

I know I've been absent, but I'll have a post or two in the next few days, so, my apologies! In the meantime, Check out the following speedlinks:

  • Photoshop Disasters - This site is awesome because is shows you all the mistakes retouchers make, and breaks them down for you!
  • Carolyn Wright, over at PhotoAttorney reports: - "an Illinois District Court held that Daniel Schrock of Dan Schrock Photography had no right to register his photographs of toys because they were unauthorized derivative works of the copyrights in the toys. Schrock was hired by Learning Curve Intern, Inc. ("LCI"), to shoot the toys for marketing uses. Alleging that LCI and others had used the photos beyond the license terms, Schrock sued for copyright infringement. But the Court agreed with the defendants that "without approval from the owner of the underlying [copyrighted] work, approval that was totally absent here, Schrock could not obtain a copyright over his derivative works."
  • A little off topic, but worth a read: LEAKS: Best Buy's Internal Customer Profiling Document - "Consumerist is now in possession of an internal training document that teaches Best Buy blue shirts how to stereotype..."
  • Scott Regan Photo Blog - Scott has a few nice words to say about my book, and also, some interesting images and insights about his own work that is worth a look.
Now go! Check 'em out, and come back soon!
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

NSC - A brief note about the Photo Booth

While I will have more later on the highly successful NPPA Northern Short Course (NSC), if you had your photo taken in the photo booth, shoot me an e-mail and I will get you an invite to view and download the images that were made.

To prove you were there, you'll have to tell me what floor the booth was on. Please no hints in the comments!

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Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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