$3.3 Billion Deal for Getty Images

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The Carlyle Group announced on Wednesday that it had reached a deal to acquire Getty Images, the well-known distributor of photography, video and multimedia products, from Hellman & Friedman for $3.3 billion.

via Carlyle in $3.3 Billion Deal for Getty Images – NYTimes.com.

There Are 14 Comments On This Article.

    • Getty have already imposed that split for RF, I believe….

      and at (Getty owned) Istockphoto I believe the fabulous split is 85/15 for non-exclusive.

      I wonder what will be next for their long-suffering frogtographers?

  1. Astute observation from the comment section: “Considering Carlyle’s investments in war, I wonder what will happen to images that show the true impact of this profitable industry.”

  2. Naturally, I view all Getty-related news as ” what fresh hell is this, ” but The Carlyle Group
    REALLY ups the ante here. It’s only a matter of time + lobbying until we are invited ( cough *rendition* ) to compete in a Blade Runner / Hunger Games like affair for the right to shoot couples on a beach, affable business meeting, and upscale teens shopping. For maybe 10 %. Maybe.

  3. Ok, so maybe NOW photographers will grow some fucking balls and start taking control of their own works and the business of photography, and stop being lazy and passing off the business end of photography to business people as they have trended for the last 20 years, and complaining that their making less money.

  4. Most of the value of these agencies is in their archives and libraries. These archives have been built up over the years by photographers not requesting the return of their analog historical and celebrity images. When the contributors die their estates rarely if ever recover the images which in effect, are abandoned to these large stock agencies and in effect become their “property”.

    Over time images left to or not returned to “Joe Photographer” are licensed out well after Joe’s demise under the photo credit of “Stock Agency”. No more “Joe Photographer/Stock Agency”. The millions (yes millions) of images which have been left with or abandoned to stock agencies give the agency an asset worth buying.

    Imagine a local consignment shop in a wealthy area such as The Hamptons. People move away, retire to Florida and leave some of their expensive, large furniture which they can’t use in the Florida condo with a consignment shop to sell. The items either sell or they sit and the retiree eventually dies. In real life the consignment shop rarely gets notice of the death and even less often seeks out the whereabouts of the consignor. The result is that the shop winds up with “ownership” of items which it then sells and rather than splitting the price 50/50 with its “true owner”, pockets 100% of the price. The estate of the deceased is 99% of the time, totally unaware that the items were in even some shop and therefore unaware of the sale.

    Stock agencies do the very same thing. They do it because photographers have traditionally been lazy and/or have done no estate planning. The result is Joe Photographer’s image is now “owned” by Stock Agency. Images of celebrities or of an historical nature have value going forward. Simple, effective business model based in large measure on the passivity of contributing photographers.

    • I’m really not sure why you presume that Getty –or any other large stock agency for that matter– is dealing only (or even largely) in imagery created by now-dead and/or “lazy” photographers who failed to properly plan their ‘estates’…or perhaps their deaths. Perhaps you are an estate planner, and don’t know any real, living-working photographers…? I’m just not sure where you’re getting your information — or your ideas about photographers.

      (Also, have you, or as anyone you know, ever tried dealing with a behemoth like Getty Images…? Just curious!)

      Personally, I would love to reclaim all 125 images that I have in Getty’s ‘vault’ right now, since I barely see any $$ from them anyway. But I can tell you it won’t be easy, it will take time, and who knows if I’ll ever even be successful — especially now that a new mega-corporation owner is taking over.

  5. Dear Ms. Wood:

    I have litigated against and negotiated with every major stock company including Getty and Corbis, dozens of times over 34 years. I am intimately familiar with the workings of most agencies having cross examined their personnel under oath at depositions or at trials on at least 50 occasions. I have with my associates, reviewed well over 1,000 banker’s boxes full of stock agency records and have spent several thousand hours representing photographers and artists in their disputes with agencies. I would gladly not possess the knowledge and experience I have of the intimate workings of agencies if someone could give me back the time we spent doing the grueling work of reading internal correspondence, examining phony records and fake tracking logs and listening to the inside information given us by former employees and “whistle blowers”.

    We have represented well over 2,000 photographers, illustrators and artists over some three decades and our current client list of “living” photographers numbers in the hundreds . I have been lecturing. litigating and writing about this specific issue for well over a decade having appeared on APA and EP, panels at teaching at the School of Visual Arts, at PhotoExpo, PhotoShop World, lecturing at Hallmark, writing a monthly column with Jack Reznicki which appears in PhotoShop User Magazine and we did a book entitled “Photographer’s Survival Manual”. Jack and I do webinars for Nik software where like in our blog thecopyrightzone.com, we answer questions from photographers located all over the world.

    So Ms. Wood I speak from extensive, personal experience and spend about 10 hours every day speaking with living, working photographers who work throughout the US, South America and the EU.

    You might do well to Google some articles going back to about 1997 which deal with the large agencies like Corbis and Getty gobbling up the “mom and pop” agencies. You might also do well by asking photographers over the age of say 50, about how the stock agency model has changed from a simple 50/50 split to “pictures by the pound”, photographer be damned and 70/30 splits.

    None of this is new to most of the people who have been in the industry for say the last 15,20 or more years. The archives of these agencies largely pre-date the advent of digital work. Agencies have retained analogue original(s) and any quality dupes whenever then can get away with it. You might want to do some research on the hundreds of thousands of images that were “lost” by agencies and how some of those “lost” images were magically returned after litigation(s) were threatened or commenced.

    I hope this clarifies for you what the sources of my information are.

  6. Nice, now all these pictures are owned by a debt financing private equity behemoth. These folks are beyond mere bean counters and the business model may not be well known to photographers. They are the locusts of the corporate world. They buy a company for $3Bn say, because they have valued its assets at some proportion of that. They then borrow some great sum, lets say $3.5Bn by selling bonds based on the assets of their acquisition (that is the debt part, someone else now owns the asset or its cash-flow by buying those bonds). The private equity firm then uses $3Bn of the capital it has raised to pay off the cost of acquiring the company/asset. Net result, they are now left with a net profit of 500 million. This they can distribute to the partners to buy a helipad for their yacht, a small island, etc. etc. In the meantime the original business is now in debt to the tune of $3Bn, its assets stripped for the future and then starts the next phase of the process as the cost of running that asset is now to be flogged to its bones in the pursuit of efficiency. I think that cost is the photographers…

    • A slight mathematical error there, in this example the original company now carries the debt of $3.5Bn rather than $3Bn. These figures are only examples, not realistic numbers, but it shows the idea. The buyers (including the original management) basically cash in the future profits for the cash now by mortgaging the assets and their future cash flows. Very much like remortgaging a house to withdraw equity.

      • Yes Paul!
        After doing extensive research on PE firms, I discovered That is EXACTLY what private equity firms do! They buy companies, run them really, really lean (fire people, renegotiate contracts etc.) and then borrow millions of dollars on the value of the company and then sell it!

        Bain Capital is an expert at this! And, surprise, Bain was in the most recent Getty Images sweepstakes until they dropped out.