The German mobile stock photo marketplace/photo-centered community and tech platform, EyeEm, has reportedly declared bankruptcy.
This comes just one year after being sold to Swiss investment firm New Value –a.k.a Talenthouse AG– and while the new parent company has been struggling financially for a while as well.
The EyeEm brand was once a strong competitor to the likes of Instagram and Shutterstock but is now, apparently, doomed. What happened?
This is what we know.
According to the German branch of Business Insider, the Berlin-based company EyeEm has recently filed for bankruptcy.
If you have not followed this brand closely, it might come as a surprise –it was once a high-profile and very promising tech startup– but there have been reports of financial struggle on the platform for a while now: photographers selling their work on the EyeEm marketplace have complained about not being paid for their sales for months since last year.
EyeEm’s parent company Talenthouse AG addressed those complaints publicly, blaming accounting issues and “global events” for the missing payments to contributors.
As we timely reported, EyeEm was acquired by Swiss investment company New Value AG –trading as Talenthouse AG– in March 2021 and rebranded into EyeEm by Talenthouse. It was disclosed at the time that the firm paid $40 Million for the purchase.
Yet, only a few months later, Talenthouse valuated EyeEm in a single-digit million amount.
Furthermore, Talenthouse AG’s stock value has reportedly been on the decline for a while.
Beyond the strictly financial problems, the firm had also faced leadership and directional issues for years. In 2020, they underwent a restructuring phase, in which both founders left (they are now behind Aware, a health monitoring app and it seems its early days are as successful and promising as their previous project). From then and going through the acquisition by Talenthouse AG, EyeEm saw multiple CEOs and Managing Directors. According to the bankruptcy filing, the company is currently leaderless.
Later on, they dubbed into the stock photo industry, inaugurating a marketplace for users to license their images. As their library was packed with the at-the-time super sought-after, mobile-styled photos, and they pushed for a polished, high-end aesthetic, it soon got distribution partnerships with giants like Getty Images and its sister company iStock. It soon signed up millions of photographers as contributors and looked at competing with lead players like Shutterstock.
They were also one of the first companies to incorporate visual AI technology to improve user experience, from image search to auto-tagging to automatic photo editing and enhancement.
It’s unclear when the hype started to die down or how or when the issues started.
As EyeEm by Talenthouse is a brand and company owned by a larger firm (New Value, a.k.a Talenthouse AG), it’s not certain what will happen to it now that it’s declared insolvent.
At the time of writing, the EyeEm website is still up, the marketplace appears still active, and even the contributor portal's sign-up forms seem to be working.
However, it’s safe to say that the golden days of EyeEm are gone and that its users and contributors can forget about seeing much activity or receiving royalty payments from the platform, not for a while anyway.
Were you surprised to learn this about EyeEm? Share your thoughts!