Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Livingstone Out At Getty Images

Whenever you read "I want to leave to spend more time with my family", or some variation of that sentiment, almost always, that means the person was forced out. But, well, maybe that's not the case with the departure of Bruce Livingstone, the CEO of iStockphoto and also Senior Vice President of consumer markets for Getty Images. Maybe he was just sitting around keeping his seat warm?

Livingstone, whom we cited in a September 17, 2007 article, from an interview in Design Mentor Training, notably said of his career:

"...After deciding he was not going to make it in the traditional stock photography business, Bruce created a free Web site to share his images with a network of designer and photographer friends, and iStockphoto was born. Initially a trading site, iStockphoto introduced the micropayment model in 2000, where buyers purchase credits in blocks starting at $10 each."
I now might make a wild guess he's now not making it in the microstock business?
(Continued after the Jump)

A reasonable guess at his contract is that he won't run a competing business for a set period of time - usually 3 to 5 years, but this is for his possible job options post-employment with the company. How much do we think he's getting from Getty? Well, according to this February 9, 2006 article in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Getty "set aside $4.3 million in escrow that will be paid to key employees who held iStockphoto shares after they complete up to three years with Getty." Gosh! That three years was up just a month ago, so maybe he wants to spend his ill-gotten gains, earned at the alter of "deep-and-cheap" stock photography, on his private life? I'm guessing he is getting a good chunk of that $4.3m.

Daryl Lang over at PDNPulse is reporting in his coverage of this announcement that Getty says this was planned for some time. No doubt, that is the case - so Livingstone can cash out from the escrow account.

One thing is for certain - if Livingstone has a non-compete clause in it, we should thank our lucky stars that Getty insisted on that language, so he couldn't start up another stock photo business model that will continue the downward spiral of rates for photographers, at least not for a few years, anyway. But who these days would even put venture-capital money into an effort like that?

So, it can only be guessed that he will go off any take his "genius" to some other industry and wreak god-knows what havoc on their business models in other industries.

HIs handle on the iStockphoto forums was "bitter", originating, it has been said, because Livingstone was a bitter and disillusioned photographer who couldn't get anyone to take his images and sell them, so he started his own business to do just that - a sort of a stick-in-the-eye of those who had refused him before. One can only wonder, if the above is, in fact, true (or even a shade of the truth), what other industries he is bitter about? Where does he want to go and "work his magic" next?

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Anonymous said...


I do buy in to the fact that iStockphoto wreaked havoc on stock license pricing. However, I don't buy it as the only cause.

Photographers who put no effort into determining their CODB and priced their stock based entirely on published industry "averages" have continued to contribute to the erosion of stock photography pricing.

So we are just a culpable as Idiot stone...er...I mean Livingstone.

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