Unsplash Acquired by Getty Images

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Interesting news in the stock imagery world today! Free stock photo site –and community– Unsplash announced they are being acquired by the stock photography heavyweight Getty Images. 


The acquisition is said to help fuel Unsplash’s development as a stand-alone brand under the Getty Images umbrella, and both leadership and staff will remain in their positions. 

What does this really mean in practice? Read on to find out. Don't miss out our stock photo industry experts views!

Unsplash + Getty Images: Furthering Profit Opportunities 

Per the announcement penned by Unsplash co-founder and CEO Mikael Cho, the talks with Getty Images started in 2016. Mikael said that while initially, they didn’t think it was the case, during the years they came to realize they share common goals with the stock photography powerhouse in more than one way, and that teaming up was the best way to achieve them. 

Namely, they intend to use Getty’s expertise and capital to further develop the two-fold, earning strategy they have rolled out recently: 

  • Unsplash for BrandsLaunched at the end of 2019, this service lets companies to feed branded images into Unsplash’s library, to then be freely (as in, for free) used by creatives and thus natively placed across the web for subtle and less in-your-face advertisement. Brands would also hire Unsplash contributors to produce this content, creating a paid opportunity for artists. 
  • Unsplash Hire Speaking of paid opportunities, back in January this year Unsplash added a feature (in beta), an opt-in Hire button that lets creatives and customers contact contributors directly about professional commissions. 

Additionally, they say they will also continue developing Unsplash’s free image library, which currently racks up over 2 million photos available for free download and use in commercial and personal projects. 

What do you think of Unsplash being a division of Getty Images? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stock Industry Experts Views

With Canva acquiring Pexels and Pixabay and Freepik recently sold to the private equity firm EQT there was only one large free stock photo website left – Unsplash. So I was already waiting on the news. I didn't expect Getty Images to be the new owner, but I think both companies fit together just great. Personally, I find it very interesting that both have expanded more into the ad business, Unsplash with their Unsplash for Brands approach and Getty Images with their free embedding technology. That could be one part of the cooperation. If you combine this with one of the largest traffic websites for free stock photos, creative imagines, and a good community of photographers and users, you have a new ad media powerhouse. I'm very excited to see what else they both come up with and how it will influence the stock photo industry in general. Again some exciting times ahead of us!

While initially, I was a bit surprised that Getty Images was that interested in Unsplash as to spending 5 years in conversation with them, as a second thought it makes a lot of sense.
There is a reason why you, me, and almost everyone we know, know what Unsplash is: it’s insanely popular. In the 8 years since its humble start with a Tumblr page and a handful of leftovers, in-house produced images, Unsplash has grown to a state-of-the-art platform with over 2 million files from 200K contributors worldwide, and a staggering 3 billion downloads. Unsplash's free images are a form of viral content on their own, used in the most varied content, everywhere.
Such a blooming source of traffic, with a very active community and viral-like visual presence, is appealing even to the most prestigious stock photography agency. If you add the fact that Getty Images dropped their traditional Rights Managed business last year, in favor of new and more profitable licensing models, it all clicks together.
I think these two can develop something big and game-changing for the industry. It’ll be exciting to be here to witness it!

The real financial value for Getty is Unsplash’s formidable number of API relationships. There are 11,135 applications currently connected directly to Unsplash’s image database with an All-time API request of 100,312,415,477. That is over 100 billion requests. While not all those requests correspond to an image download, even at 1%, that still represents 1 billion images! It is a huge potential market for Getty. Read Paul's full view here!



Ivanna Attié
Ivanna Attié

I am Content Manager, Researcher, and Author in StockPhotoSecrets.com and Stock Photo Press and its many stock media-oriented publications. I am a passionate communicator with a love for visual imagery and an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge. Lucky enough to enter the wonderful world of stock photography working side-by-side with experienced experts, I am happy to share my research, insights, and advice about image licensing, stock photography offers, and the stock media industry with everyone in the creative community. My background is in Communication and Journalism, and I also love literature and performing arts.

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