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Shutterstock throws down US$75m on 3D CGI

Shutterstock has tipped the stock content market growth area is 3D computer-generated imagery, after acquiring 3D content marketplace, TurboSquid, for US$75 million.

A 3D model from TurboSquid. The future of stock content… and cars!

TurboSquid is a Louisiana-based company launched in 2000, with the platform offering a similar service to photo stock agencies. The platform sells its contributors’ 3D rendering and models, with more than one million models available. The ready-made 3D models are an alternative to stock photos and some market sectors, such as real estate and the automotive industry, are increasingly using the ‘perfect’ 3D models over real images. TurboSquid’s customers include game developers, news agencies, architects, visual effects studios, advertising agencies, and so on.

By acquiring TurboSquid, Shutterstock claims its positioned to become ‘the world’s largest 3D marketplace’.

‘At Shutterstock, we are constantly at the forefront of innovation, monitoring the creative roadmap through our clients,’ said Stan Pavlovsky, CEO of Shutterstock, in the press release. ‘The growth of 3D, AR and VR content and the potential to engage consumers with this disruptive technology is at an all-time high, and TurboSquid’s industry-leading platform allows us to make the distribution of 3D accessible to Shutterstock’s community of creators and marketers across video, gaming, e-commerce, and beyond.’

Shutterstock will have a slight edge over its largest competitor, Getty Images, which doesn’t offer 3D content. The acquisition will also complement the company’s new endeavour, Shutterstock Studios, a creative agency aiming to do everything from market research through to delivering ad campaigns.

Pavlovsky told FastCompany he wants 3D models to jump from a niche product used by tech wizards to becoming a mainstream marketing tool.

‘We want to make sure that our marketers and content creators have the latest and greatest capabilities,’ Pavlovsky said. ‘Today 3D is focused on very highly trained professionals as well as more niche categories like industrial categories. There’s obviously some application of 3D within e-commerce—furniture companies like Ikea, but for us we’ve always been an innovator of the space of bringing content and workflow to creators.’

Confused contributors

Shutterstock has undergone some interesting changes in the last 12 months. The business overhauled its contributor earnings schedule last year to dish out a massive pay cut, in the form of a tiered payment system that resets every year. Contributors earn a larger percentage fee based on the volume of sales they make throughout the year.

Some Shutterstock contributors are finding it difficult to understand how the new earning system works. In theory there would be a noticeable pay cut between December and January as payment levels reset. However, Shutterstock is pushing a customer subscription model, where a monthly or yearly fee buys access to a number of files. Shutterstock contributors have found this has scrambled the ability to gauge how much they may earn based on the licence and duration.

The contributor pay cut will likely result in a massive expenditure saving, assisting Shutterstock’s new ventures such as the US$75 million TurboSquid acquisition.


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