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Shutterstock, Inc.
Traded as NYSESSTK
S&P 600 Component
Industry Stock photography, stock footage, stock music
Founded 2003; 14 years ago (2003)
Founder Jon Oringer
Headquarters Empire State Building
350 Fifth Avenue
New York City
, United States
Key people
Jon Oringer (CEO)
Steven Berns (CFO)
Products Shutterstock Editor, Shutterstock Tab, Shutterstock Image Subscription
Services Licensing of stock media
Owner Jon Oringer (46.3%)[1]
Number of employees
Subsidiaries Bigstock
Rex Features

Shutterstock is an American stock photography, stock footage, stock music, and editing tools provider[3] headquartered in New York City.[4] Founded in 2003 by programmer and photographer Jon Oringer,[5] Shutterstock maintains a library of around 90 million royalty-free stock photos, vector graphics, and illustrations,[6] with around 4 million video clips and music tracks available for licensing.[6] Originally a subscription site only,[7] Shutterstock expanded beyond subscriptions into a la carte pricing in 2008,[8] and has been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange[9] since 2012.[9][10] Since its founding Shutterstock has acquired a handful of other companies, starting with Bigstock in 2009[11] and followed by digital asset management software provider WebDAM in 2014.[12] After acquiring Rex Features and PremiumBeat in 2015,[13] Shutterstock recently announced a partnership with the Associated Press.[6] It also has licensing deals with companies such as Penske Media Corporation.[14] The company had over 100,000 contributors as of March 2016,[6] with an "active customer base of 1.4 million people in 150 countries."[15]


Founding and early years (2003-2011)[edit]

Shutterstock was founded in 2003 by American entrepreneur and computer programmer Jon Oringer.[16] Creating his own online marketplace,[4] Oringer initially uploaded 30,000 of his own stock photos and made them available via subscription,[4] with unlimited downloads and a monthly starting fee of USD $49.[4] When demand exceeded his photo supply,[4] he became an agent[17] and began hiring additional contributors.[4] Helping pioneer the subscription based microstock photography business model,[17] Shutterstock claimed that it was the "largest subscription-based stock photo agency in the world" as of 2006, with 570,000 images in its collection.[18] Shutterstock branched into film in 2006 with the launch of Shutterstock Footage,[18] and by 2007, the company had 1.8 million photos.[7] Insight Venture Partners invested in the company that year.[4] Shutterstock expanded beyond subscriptions into a la carte pricing in August 2008, with its "On Demand" service removing daily download limits.[8]

On September 23, 2009, Shutterstock announced that it had purchased Bigstock, a rival credit-based microstock photography agency.[11] Fast Company argued the deal put "Shutterstock on a competitive playing field with Getty, whose iStockPhoto is also credit-based."[19] Shutterstock's CEO Jon Oringer stated the addition would "enable Shutterstock to better satisfy the diverse payment preferences of stock photo buyers worldwide."[11] Shutterstock had 11 million royalty-free stock images by early 2010.[20] In February 2011, Shutterstock announced a two-year partnership with the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) to provide creative inspiration to its members.[21] Claiming it licensed more images than "any other brand worldwide" in 2011,[21] that November Shutterstock debuted Shutterstock for iPad, which it provided for free.[22]

Acquisitions and IPO (2012-2013)[edit]

With 200 million licensed image downloads as of February 2012,[23] by April 2012 the company had 18 million royalty-free stock images,[20] which grew to 19 million the following month.[24] Shutterstock Images LLC announced the Shutterstock Instant tool in May 2012, which displayed images in an interlocking mosaic to increase viewing speed.[25] Shutterstock Instant was launched under the auspices of the newly formed Shutterstock Labs, which develops tools and interfaces for Shutterstock, among other projects.[25][26] Also in May 2012, Shutterstock filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, which it completed on October 17, 2012 under the ticker SSTK.[9][10] In November 2012, Shutterstock debuted a universal iOS application meant for iPhone and iPad, among other devices.[27]

Shutterstock, Inc. announced Spectrum, a new "image discovery tool," in March 2013.[26] At the time, Shutterstock had 24 million licensable photos, vectors and illustrations in its portfolio.[26] Shutterstock launched Skillfeed in June 2013, a subscription-based online marketplace to connect the creators of instructional videos with consumers.[28] In August 2013, Shutterstock and Facebook announced a partnership to integrate Shutterstock's library within Facebook's Ad Creator, allowing advertisers to select from Shutterstock's images when creating ads.[29] At the time, Shutterstock was available in 20 languages including Thai, Korean, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese.[30]

Offset and new partnerships (2013-2014)[edit]

In September 2013, Shutterstock launched Offset, marketplace prioritizing high end curated photos from established artists.[31] A few months later, it launched its first Android app.[32] In October 2013, Shutterstock opened offices in Berlin, Germany.[33] At the time, Shutterstock stated it served 750,000 customers, with 30 percent of those customers in Europe.[33] Shutterstock's shares had reached a $2.5 billion market value by the fall of 2013,[4] while revenue for 2013 was USD $235 million.[34]

In March 2014, Shutterstock acquired WebDAM, a provider of online digital asset management software.[12] Also in March 2014, Shutterstock relocated its headquarters to the Empire State Building.[35] In May 2014, Shutterstock and Salesforce partnered to integrate Shutterstock's image library into Salesforce's Social Studio.[36] Shutterstock debuted its Palette tool in July 2014, a "multi-color image discovery tool."[37] Shutterstock announced it had surpassed 2 million video clips on September 2, 2014.[38] Shortly afterwards it revealed a new app meant to help contributors with uploading and categorizing photos.[39] Shutterstock's revenue was $328 million in 2014, an increase of 39% from 2013.[16] In 2014, Shutterstock paid "over $83 million to its roughly 80,000 contributors."[16]

Recent developments (2015-2016)[edit]

In January 2015, Shutterstock acquired both Rex Features, Europe's largest independent photo press agency, and PremiumBeat, a stock music and sound effects service.[13] The Rex acquisition was estimated at $33 million,[40] while PremiumBeat was purchased for $32 million.[13] Penske Media Corporation formed a partnership with Shutterstock in June 2015 to create and license entertainment and fashion images. According to the terms of the deal, by 2016 Shutterstock would have an exclusive right and license to PMC's archive,[14] which included magazines such as Variety, Women's Wear Daily,[40] and Deadline.[16] Crain's wrote that with the partnership, "Shutterstock, a provider of stock imagery and music tracks, is stepping into the world of red carpets and fashion runways—and taking a key provider of fashion and entertainment photos and video away from archrival Getty Images."[40]

By March 2016, the company had "over 100,000 contributors," with around 70 million images and 4 million video clips available for licensing and sale.[6] That month Shutterstock announced it would be distributing material from the Associated Press in the United States, with the deal to last 3 years and cover 30 million photos and around 2 million videos. The photos were expected to go live in April.[6] According to Entrepreneur, Shutterstock also had an "active customer base of 1.4 million people in 150 countries."[15]

Facilities and staff[edit]

Shutterstock is headquartered in New York City's Silicon Alley. In October 2013 Shutterstock opened its new European headquarters in Berlin, Germany in the Kulturbrauerei,[33] and by March 2014, Shutterstock had additional offices in Amsterdam, Chicago, Denver, London, Montréal, Paris and San Francisco.[33] After maintaining its New York headquarters for years in a Wall Street office,[4] in March 2014 Shutterstock relocated into the Empire State Building.[35] According to Inc., the office was selected with the goal of decreasing commute times for New York employees.[35] The new location was built with no private offices, instead with 23 "pop-in rooms" for private meetings and conferences when needed.[35]

After its founding in 2003 with CEO Jon Oringer as the sole employee, by 2007 Shutterstock had grown to 30 people. In 2010 Oringer hired Thilo Semmelbauer as COO, who had previously worked with and Weight Watchers.[4] With 295 employees as of October 2013,[4] that had grown to 700 employees as of 2016.[2] In 2014, Fast Company published an article featuring Shutterstock as an example of a successful "intrapreneur"-reliant company, touting the company's "hackathons" for fostering staff creativity. Explains Fast Company, "the most obvious benefit of intrapreneurship is the ability to pursue more opportunities, allowing Shutterstock to test boundaries and experiment with offshoot products that can keep their core consumer base from turning to a competitor for their needs."[41]

Business model[edit]

Shutterstock licenses media for online download on behalf of photographers, designers, illustrators, videographers and musicians,[4] maintaining a library of around 90 million royalty-free stock photos, vector graphics, and illustrations.[42] Shutterstock also has around 4 million video clips and music clips in its portfolio.[38] While Shutterstock currently has several payment models, The Atlantic wrote in 2012 that Shutterstock "pioneered the subscription approach to stock photo sales, allowing customers to download images in bulk rather than à la carte."[24] The Atlantic further wrote that Shutterstock is "a web community in the manner of a Facebook or a Twitter or a Pinterest, with its value relying almost entirely on the enthusiasms of its contributors."[24]

"Shutterstock is e-commerce with a twist, and its success depends on its contributors' ability to predict, and then provide, products that its subscribers will want to buy."
The Atlantic (May 18, 2012)[24]

With potential contributors able to apply to the site for free,[16] Shutterstock has a team of reviewers "charged with ensuring editorial consistency and quality."[24] As of 2016, if one of ten of a photographer's pictures are accepted, then they become a Shutterstock contributor.[43] As of 2011, only around 20 percent of applicants were approved, and "less than 60 percent of all the images uploaded by those approved contributors were ultimately put up on the site."[24] Once approved, contributors can begin uploading their work through the website. They supply keywords, categorize the images, and submit them to the "inspection queue", where images are examined for quality, usefulness and copyright and trademark laws. Each time an image is downloaded, the photographer receives a flat rate.[7][44][45] Explains VICE, "photographers retain copyright over their images, but Shutterstock is given full permission to market, display, and license the image to the customers on their site without final approval from the photographer."[16] As of March 2015, contributors added around 50,000 new images daily, and Shutterstock had paid around $250 million to contributors since its founding. In 2014, it paid $80 million to contributors.[42]


Shutterstock film and music[edit]

Shutterstock began selling stock video in February 2006. Shutterstock Footage operates similarly to their image library, offering video clips by subscription or on a per-clip basis.[18] As of 2014, Shutterstock Footage contained around 2 million royalty-free video clips.[38] Shutterstock Music debuted later, with new content submittable by contributors.[46]

Shutterstock apps[edit]

Shutterstock for iPad was launched in November 2011,[22] and in May 2012 the app received a Webby Award for People's Voice in the tablet app category for utilities and services.[47] Shutterstock for iPad was followed in 2012 by a universal iOS app,[27] which by 2013 had been downloaded 650,000 times. The iOS app originally lacked the ability to download images, with that functionality added later.[32] The universal iOS app also included new features for Shutterstock, including the ability to filter image searches by color.[27] Shutterstock debuted an Android App in 2013,[32] and in September 2014, Shutterstock launched an app dedicated to its contributors, both available for iOS and Android. The app allows contributors to upload, keyword and categorize new images.[39]

Shutterstock Labs[edit]

In 2012, Shutterstock launched Shutterstock Labs, a lab for "exploratory tools and products."[26] In May 2012, Shutterstock Images LLC announced the Shutterstock Instant tool, which according to the company was inspired by Shutterstock for iPad. The interface displays images in an interlocking mosaic view, allowing users to view more photos in less time.[25] Shutterstock Instant was made available on the Shutterstock Labs website.[25][26] The prototype for the search tool Spectrum was launched on March 21, 2013. With development in-house by Shutterstock Labs, the tool "indexes hexagram data to yield search results by color."[26] In July 2014, Shutterstock launched Palette, which allows users to add colors to the terms of the search, in addition to keywords.[37]


In September 2013 Shutterstock launched Offset, a stock photography marketplace that focuses on high-quality curated images from established artists.[31] Described as a "high-end imagery service,"[12] the photo marketplace is operated by an independent company, which in turn is owned by Shutterstock.[16] Explains Fast Company in 2014, Offset "was created to serve the adjacent needs of existing customers who were looking for premium imagery for billboards, book covers, and high-profile signage for a fraction of the cost of a custom photo shoot."[41] At its launch, Offset had 45,000 images from around 100 artists and publishers such as National Geographic.[31]

Computer vision[edit]

Shutterstock has developed a number of tools utilizing a "convolutional neural network" that it created[15] to help with reverse image search technology.[48] The network is "essentially a computer system that is trained to recognize images - there are millions of specific items such as cats, bicycles, the night sky - and pull up the most relevant photos."[15] The network was dubbed computer vision by Shutterstock, and it "breaks down the key components of a photo numerically, drawing from its pixel data instead of metadata that is pulled from those tags and keywords."[15]

"So a lot of image databases fill in those gaps with user behavior. If people searching the words 'bike' and 'fence' download a particular image more often, that one probably contains those two things in it.... Computer vision [like Shutterstock's] can change all that by eliminating the need for keywords in the first place. Using a series of algorithms, a model can progressively survey each pixel in an image to pick out different features in it—the color, the shapes, the sharpness of the angles. Each calculation is a layer of the deep learning network."

— Popular Science (March 10, 2016)[49]

On March 10, 2016, Shutterstock debuted its Reverse Image Search tool. According to Entrepreneur, with the tool "users can upload an image, either from Shutterstock or another source, and the tool will call up images that look like and have a similar feel to the original photo."[15] The reverse image search allows users to not just search by keywords, but to also find images based on "color schemes, mood, or shapes."[48] Later that month, Shutterstock also debuted its Similar Search and Discovery tools,[15] with the "similar search" option provided beneath photos on the Shutterstock website.[48]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shutterstock, Inc.". SEC. May 17, 2016. Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  2. ^ a b Majewski, Taylor. "From stock photos to the stock market: Shutterstock CEO reveals how the company went public". Built in NYC. Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  3. ^ "Introducing Shutterstock Editor: A Simple and Fast Way to Edit Photos". December 10, 2015. Retrieved 2016-06-10. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Steven Bertoni, "Silicon Alley's First Billionaire Aims To Dominate Images On Web", Forbes, October 28, 2013
  5. ^ Gittleson, Kim (12 August 2013). "How Jon Oringer became Silicon Alley's first billionaire". BBC. Retrieved 2016-07-30. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Shutterstock Editorial announces multiyear U.S. distribution deal with AP". Associated Press. March 9, 2016. Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  7. ^ a b c Eric A. Taub, "When Are Photos Like Penny Stocks? When They Sell", New York Times, June 5, 2007
  8. ^ a b "Shutterstock Launches New "On Demand" Subscription to Serve Full Spectrum of Stock Image Buyers", Shutterstock Press Release, August 5, 2008
  9. ^ a b c "Shutterstock Celebrates IPO on the NYSE", NYSE Press Release, October 17, 2012 Archived February 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ a b "Form S-1, Shutterstock, Inc.". May 14, 2012. Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  11. ^ a b c Stephen Shankland "Shutterstock Buys Rival, Shifts Photo Sales Strategy", CNET, September 23, 2009
  12. ^ a b c Frederic Lardinois, "Shutterstock Acquires Digital Asset Management Service WebDAM, Goes After Enterprise Market", TechCrunch, March 3, 2014
  13. ^ a b c By Frederic Lardinois. “Shutterstock Acquires Rex Features And PremiumBeat,” TechCrunch, January 15, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Bond, Shannon (2015-06-22). "Shutterstock to challenge Getty Images after Variety tie-up". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-09-02. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Zipkin, Nina (March 10, 2016). "How Shutterstock Is Training Its System to Help You Find Better Photos". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Schwartz, Dana (November 29, 2015). "Inside Offset, the Surreal, Millennial-Targeted Photo Market within Shutterstock". VICE. Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  17. ^ a b "Small Business: How to Beat a Goliath"SmartMoney, February 2, 2009 Archived July 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ a b c "Introducing Shutterstock Footage – A Stock Video Resource from Shutterstock", Shutterstock Press Release, February 9, 2006
  19. ^ Schomer, Stephanie (September 23, 2009). "Shutterstock Buys BigStockPhoto, PowerPoint Presentations Rejoice". Fast Company. Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  20. ^ a b – Stats released on website
  21. ^ a b "AIGA partners with Shutterstock to provide creative inspiration to members", Shutterstock Press Release, February 15, 2011
  22. ^ a b Brad McCarty, "Shutterstock brings its 16 million images to the iPad with a dedicated app", The Next Web, November 3, 2011
  23. ^ "Shutterstock Surpasses 200 Million Image Downloads – Celebrates with Global Design Trends Infographic", Shutterstock Press Release, February 1, 2012
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  25. ^ a b c d "Shutterstock Re-imagines Image Search with a New Discovery Tool: Shutterstock Instant", Shutterstock Press Release, May 31, 2012
  26. ^ a b c d e f "Shutterstock Introduces Spectrum, A Breathtaking Way To Explore Millions Of Photos Using Color", Shutterstock Press Release, March 21, 2013
  27. ^ a b c "Shutterstock Announces Universal iOS App", Shutterstock Press Release, November 6, 2012
  28. ^ Stephen Shankland, "With Skillfeed, Shutterstock aims to rework online training", CNET, May 29, 2013
  29. ^ Josh Constine, "Facebook Makes Ads Prettier With Shutterstock Partnership To Offer Free Stock Images In Ad Creator", TechCrunch, August 22, 2013
  30. ^ "Shutterstock Continues to Meet Demand for High Quality Imagery in Asia and Launches Website in Korean and Thai Languages", Shutterstock Press Release, August 8, 2013
  31. ^ a b c Tom Cheredar, "Shutterstock launches new high-end photo service ‘Offset’", VentureBeat, September 24, 2013
  32. ^ a b c Martin Bryant, "Shutterstock launches an Android app to let you browse its 31m+ images on the move", The Next Web, December 10, 2013
  33. ^ a b c d "Shutterstock Opens European Headquarters in Berlin, Germany", Shutterstock Press Release, October 31, 2013
  34. ^ Gacinga, Joseph (May 12, 2014). "Where Are Shutterstock Shares Going?". Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  35. ^ a b c d Will Yakowicz, "How Shutterstock Used Data to Cut Staff Commutes", Inc., May 5, 2014
  36. ^ Anthony Ha, "Salesforce Launches Its Social Studio For Marketing Collaboration And Custom Integrations", TechCrunch, May 6, 2014
  37. ^ a b Sammy Maine, "New multi-colour tool will make image search even easier", Creative Bloq, July 15, 2014
  38. ^ a b c "Shutterstock Surpasses 2 Million Video Clips in Its Marketplace". Shutterstock Press Release. September 2, 2014. Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  39. ^ a b Amos Struck, "Shutterstock launches Contributor App", My Stock Photo, September 23, 2014
  40. ^ a b c Flamm, Matthew (June 22, 2015). "Shutterstock beats Getty, partners with Variety, WWD publisher". Crain's New York. Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  41. ^ a b Evans, Lisa (April 22, 2014). "How Intrapreneurship Encouraged Shutterstock's Creative Success". Fast Company. Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  42. ^ a b "Shutterstock's Collection Exceeds 50 Million Images", Shutterstock Press Release, March 9, 2015
  43. ^ "How do I become a photo contributor?". Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  44. ^ Taylor Buley, "A Snappy Way to Make Money In Stock", Forbes, September 2, 2008
  45. ^ Kate Torgovnik "Make Money", Time Out NY, January 22, 2009
  46. ^ "About". Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  47. ^ "Shutterstock for iPad Won a Webby!", Shutterstock Blog, May 1, 2012
  48. ^ a b c Sawers, Paul (March 12, 2016). "Shutterstock shows machine learning smarts with reverse image search for stock photos". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2016-06-15. 
  49. ^ Ossola, Alexandra (March 10, 2016). "Shutterstock Has Trained A Computer To Find You The Perfect Photos". Popular Science. Retrieved 2016-06-15.