Getty Images will return to the stock market as a publicly-traded company, with it valued at US$4.8 billion on the New York Stock Exchange.
To go public, Getty Images is forming a parent company, which has been acquired by CC Neuberger Principal Holdings II, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). SPACs are a popular alternative avenue for a private company to go public, and Getty Images is by far NeuBerger’s largest and most recognisable company.
Getty Images, co-founded in 1995 by Jonathan Klein and Mark Getty, a descendant of multibillionaire Jean Paul Getty, and a year later the company debuted on the NASDAQ exchange. More recently, the company’s corporate history has been constantly changing.
In 2008 private equity firm, Hellman & Friedman, acquired Getty Images for around US$2.4 billion, resulting in the company going from public to private. At the time CNET described Getty as ‘powerful but financially troubled’, although shareholders were paid out a price that was a 29 percent premium.
In 2012, the company was handballed over to The Carlyle Group for US$3.3 billion. According to GeekWire, the company has been ‘weighed down in debt’ since then, however US$576 million of the US$1.38 billion from the SPAC deal will go toward paying off debt.
In 2016 Getty’s primary competitor, Corbis, was sold by owner Bill Gates to Chinese-owned, Visual China Group. Upon announcing the sale, Corbis new owners announced Getty would take on distribution of its library outside China, meaning there was one less competitor. Visual China Group, meanwhile, handles Getty’s library in the Chinese market.
Getty has made other notable acquisitions, including companies that devalue and damage the photo industry such as microstock agency iStock in 2009, and free photo agency Unsplash in 2021.
Geekwire tracked down Getty’s recent financial statements filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and found the company’s revenue dropped to US$814 million in 2020, from US$846 million in 2019 and US$868 million in 2018. However the net loss improved to US$39 million in 2020, from US$51 million the year before.
Getty’s projected major growth areas include video and international markets, according to an investor presentation, and the company aims to continue building its subscription business.
‘We invested in Getty Images more than three years ago because we were convinced the company was at an inflection point in its transition to a recurring, subscription-based service with a sustainable long-term growth profile,’ said Brett Watson,president of Koch Equity Development, in a press release. ‘Behind the leadership of Mark Getty and Craig Peters, the latest phase of this transformation is complete, and we look forward to continuing to support the company as it pursues new growth vectors with a public company balance sheet.’
One of Getty’s biggest competitors, Shutterstock, went public in 2012 on the New York Stock Exchange with a market capitalisation estimated of around US$760 million.
It listed at US$17 per share, and that figure now sits at US$111.07 with a market capitalisation that’s more in line with Getty’s current valuation, at US$4.06 billion.