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Shutterstock acquires Pond5 for US$210 million

Shutterstock has acquired competing stock agency, Pond5, which claims to be the largest video-first content marketplace with 30 million clips, for US$210 million.

Shutterstock + POND5

According to the press release, beyond the 30 million video clips, Pond5 also offers 1.6 million license-able music tracks and 1.7 million sound assets.

In an e-mail to Pond5 contributors, CEO Tom Crary said: ‘Pond5 and Shutterstock have very similar, but not identical, Contributor Agreements. We have no immediate plans to amend our Contributor Agreement (or any of the terms of use of our marketplace), nor does Shutterstock.

This is far from true. Exclusive Pond5 video contributors receive 60 percent revenue share, or 40 percent for non-exclusive, while photos and other media types outside of sound receive 50 percent share. And then there is this crucial point: Pond5 contributors can set their own pricing.

Shutterstock’s contributor earnings schedule.

Shutterstock, on the other hand, has a strict contributor payment schedule where there are commission rate levels based on how many files have been licensed. At the start of each year, the payment schedule resets to the lowest figure, and contributors again climb the payment schedule ladder for a higher rate. Shutterstock also handles all pricing.

When Shutterstock rolled out this payment system on June 1, 2020, contributors were furious at the noticeable pay cut with single payments as low as US$0.10.

Pond5 states in an FAQ that the company ‘will continue to operate as a standalone marketplace for the foreseeable future’. It seems it’s a matter of when, not if, Pond5 will be swallowed up by Shutterstock, and contributors will be forced into Shutterstock’s payment scheme.

Contributors are not happy, although some also note that Pond5 sales have been lagging recently. ‘Personally, I’m encouraged to see if a collective marketing spend will improve Pond5 sales – which have been in decline,’ said Pond5 contributor, Simon Brough, in the Microstockgroup forums.

According to the press release, Pond5 has +115K contributors and this acquisition ‘solidifies Shutterstock’s position as the premium destination for its global customer community for unique access to editorial content, video footage and music’.

Shutterstock has been heavy on the acquisitions lately in the last two years, with the stock agency buying web-based photo editor, PicMonkey, for US$110 million; and 3D content marketplace, TurboSquid, for US$75 million.

When Inside Imaging reported on the PicMonkey acquisition in September 2021, we noted the share price had skyrocketed to over US$110 on the New York Stock Exchange. The US stock markets have copped a beating lately, and the tech sector has been a major victim. So it’s no surprise to discover the Shutterstock share price has not performed well this year. Since January 1, 2022, the share price has dropped 43.95 percent and currently sits at US$62.15.

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