Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions: Getty Images Buys JupiterImages

Do you feel bad when you see a crook who just held up a little old lady at gunpoint and shot her, while fleeing, gunned down by an off-duty police officer? "Gosh, that man shouldn't have been shot....". No, of course not. (ok, well, maybe just a little). Instead, most people would say the crook got got his just punishment. As Berretta used to say, "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime." So, Watching Getty Images and JupiterImages come together is like watching Bonnie and Clyde in their jalopy headed towards the cliff's edge, and their brakes are out.

Why should I care?
(Continued after the Jump)

Frankly, I don't. It would be one thing if the green-eyeshade-wearing fools at Getty were taking a particularly decent photo agency, and applying their time-tested methods of devastating a stock photography model, which was one component of their plummet from a near $100 high in the stock market to a $30-ish embarassment that made them an easy takeover for a breakup company. Make no mistake here, this is a consolidation of the deep-and-cheap portals so that your results for any given figure are no longer 41,000+ at Getty for "white house", or the 9,200+ at JupiterImages for the same term, but instead, over 50,000 for that search term, and many other consolidated searches. That isn't going to sell more penny images of the White House.

I see these two companies that have devastated the industry rate structures under the "let's sell 100 for $1 instead of $1 for $200", are two silly little delusional peas in a pod. All their private owners are trying to do is further solidify the market. Boo hoo.

These two are made for each other. Getty bought them at a sub-$1 figure, which is a small fraction of what the company has been worth (albeit declining) over the past eight years. They just bought servers and servers full of images, all keyworded and ready to sell. All aging rapidly, and depreciating as times, hairstyles, and technologies change. It was one helluva price to pay, as it wouldn't surprise me if JUPM ws facing delisting because they were below a $1, so they had a firesale price, and Corbis wasn't interested. It was rumored as late as last February that Getty was interested in buying Jupiter for the princely sum of $450m.

No dout Jupiter's principals had tired of their fancy photo agency, like the king who has tired of the court jester's antics, and orders "off with his head." So too did those in-charge of JUPM decide it was time to sell their body on life-support for parts. A liver here, a kidney there. Who cares about the body as a whole, we just want out of this bad deal.

To those at Jupiter who were salivating at that $450m, and now are getting less than 25% of that value - I posit the notion - "What goes around comes around, and it's clearly come around and whacked you upside the head." Now you have a bit of a taste of what the photographic community experienced in the loss of far more than 75% of it's revenue stream when you all started selling "subscriptions", and photographers were seeing "$0.48" as the commission rate for a use of their photograph.

The final question is - what does the Justice Department think about this aquisition?

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