Shutterstock is a leading stock photography agency that sells Royalty-Free stock images (photos + vector illustrations), videos, and music online. It's one of the titans in the industry and the go-to agency for many buyers.
There is no better way of understanding a company's actual size and relevance than through its stats. So today, we bring you a complete report with all the relevant Shutterstock statistics you need to know.
All the information in this post is as updated as possible and comes from Shutterstock themselves, trusted sources (which are quoted and linked), and our insider knowledge –we work closely with the agency, and we have since over a decade–. However, we do not offer any guarantees about the specific Shutterstock stats (and the graphs and charts we made) shared or their accuracy.
Let's begin! Firstly, here are the critical stats for knowing what Shutterstock is, where they are based, and what they do:
|HQ||New York City, New York, USA|
|Company status||Publicly traded (NYSE)|
|Net worth||$2.8 billion|
|NYSE ticker symbol||SSTK|
|Average share price||99.28 (2021)|
|Revenue||$773.42 million (2021)|
|Net income||$91.9 million (2021)|
|Library size||406+ million images|
|Customers||2.1 million (2021)|
This is a brief resume of Shutterstock in numbers. If you wish to learn more about their offer, check out our full Shutterstock review. Plus:
- Understand their prices with our Shutterstock pricing breakdown (including the newer Shutterstock editorial subscriptions)
- Learn all about their licensing in our Shutterstock License analysis
- Try the service for free with the fantastic Shutterstock free trial
- Save on your purchases with our exclusive Shutterstock coupon code
- Learn how to get Shutterstock Creative Flow for free
Let’s look at how much money Shutterstock made in 2021 and how those incomes break down.
|Income||2021||Compared to 2020|
|Cost of revenue||$278 million||+7%|
|Net income||$91.9 million||+28%|
|Subscriber revenue||$317.5 million||+20%|
|Paid downloads||$180 million||Flat|
|Revenue per download||$4.16||+13%|
This quick overview shows us that Shutterstock made an enviable sum of money in 2021. But let's have a closer look at the numbers.
In 2021, Shutterstock increased its revenue by 16% compared to the $666.7 million it bagged in 2020. This sum comes from:
- Subscribers – Their most significant revenue stream, subscribers' revenue went up 20% from the same segment in 2020 and represents 41.05% of their total revenue. This is an important piece of information, in particular for contributors and investors: nothing says “healthy business” quite as much as consistent growth in the number of subscribers, and Shutterstock agrees, as they consider this metric to be one of the best indicators of the state of their affairs, of current and potential growth.
- E-Commerce – Direct sales through their main website increased by 19%, mostly driven by the growth in subscribers and the acquisition of two subsidiary companies (TurboSquid and Picmonkey)
- Enterprise – Enterprise revenue also grew by 11% in this period, according to the agency growth was fueled by the constant updates and upgrades of their platform and offers for this segment.
For a detailed look into each one of these points, read the next section, “Customers, Active Users, and Subscribers in Detail”.
The total operating costs for 2021 were $665.3 million. The breakdown of said costs is as follows:
- Cost of revenue – It increased by 7% compared to 2020, mainly due to higher royalty expenses –payments to contributors–, higher procurement costs and credit card fees due to increased revenue, and a rise in depreciation and amortization expense due to the year's acquisitions.
- Sales and marketing – They spend 29% more on sales and marketing last year, with most of this going to performance marketing, brand marketing, and TV ads, but also to higher employee commissions from enterprise sales.
- Product development – These expenses went up by 13% in 2021. This was due to higher costs in personnel and non-cash compensation
- General and administrative – This operational expense increased by 12%, primarily driven by higher employee-related costs, higher non-cash compensation expenses, and higher professional fees (which were impacted by transaction costs from the acquisition of TurboSquid and Picmonkey)
- Other expenses – They also accounted for a $3.3 million expense related to foreign currency fluctuations (as the US dollar fluctuates in relation to other currencies they operate in)
Income Tax and Net Income
From what we saw up to this point, Shutterstock's income before tax in 2021 was $104.7 million.
Income tax in 2021 is reported to have been $12.9 million, which represents a decrease of 27.5% compared to the previous year.
After taxes, their net income was $91.9 million in 2021, which is up 28% from their net for 2020.
For those of you who find the stock market interesting, here is a quick look at Shutterstock's stock exchange performance in the past four years – data provided by Macrotrends.net.
|Year||Price at Year Open||Highest Price of the Year||Lowest Price of the Year||Price at Year Close||Average Share Price||Annual % Change|
We saw earlier that Shutterstock's subscribers brought in $317.5 million in 2021. But they're a segment of the agency's customer base.
Shutterstock considers customers as every user on their platform that has bought at least one product during the year.
On the other hand, subscribers are those clients who have bought one or more monthly subscriptions (long-term commitment) during the year.
|Type of client||Quantity|
As it stands, subscribers represent 16.33% of Shutterstock's total customer base right now. But there are two important considerations to make about this metric:
- Shutterstock considers subscribers to be a segment that best encompasses their stability, growth, and potential growth. It makes sense since these are recurrent clients buying products with mid to long-term commitments, and they display the agency's power to engage and retain clients.
- Shutterstock's subscriber base has been in constant growth in later years and in 2021 it went up 22% compared to 2020, as you can see in this chart below:
And finally but not for that less relevant:
- The firm has also experienced an increasing trend in revenues from subscribers in the last three years, as well. In 2021, the subscriber revenue increased by 19.67% compared to the previous year. See this chart to get an idea of how much they've earned from subscriber sales in the last two years alone:
Here it's worth mentioning that in their annual report for 2021, Shutterstock states the subscriber base grew more than the subscriber revenue due to massive interest from buyers in their lowest-priced subscription plans – or in layman's terms: they sold more plans but at lower costs.
To make this clearer, let's have a look at how much Shutterstock reported earned from subscribers every quarter of the last three years:
|Quarter||Number of subscribers||Revenue from subscribers|
|Q1 2019||161,000||$58 million|
|Q2 2019||173,000||$58 million|
|Q3 2019||184,000||$60 million|
|Q4 2019||194,000||$61 million|
|Q1 2020||209,000||$63.9 million|
|Q2 2020||223,000||$62.7 million|
|Q3 2020||255,000||$67.6 million|
|Q4 2020||281,000||$71.1 million|
|Q1 2021||306,000||$76.5 million|
|Q2 2021||321,000||$78.1 million|
|Q3 2021||336,000||$81.5 million|
|Q4 2021||343,000||$81.4 million|
To wrap up this part of the stats overview, let's see the Shutterstock subscriber number, subscriber revenue per year, and per subscriber for the last three years:
|Year||Number of subscribers||Revenue from subscribers||Revenue/subscriber|
E-commerce vs. Enterprise
Another interesting metric is how Shutterstock's earnings split in terms of the nature of the customer's need and where their purchase originates. They consider the main distinction between e-commerce revenue (licenses sold through their websites directly) and enterprise revenue (resulting from larger clients with specific needs in terms of content and workflow solutions – Shutterstock Enterprise is a segment of their offer that caters to these buyers).
|Income stream||Revenue||Compared to 2020|
As you can see, e-commerce buyers continue to be the most significant revenue stream for the agency, and this is also the segment with the highest growth percentage of the two.
In addition to where they make their purchases, Shutterstock also classifies their customers according to the size of their operations and the industry they work in, and they identify three main categories:
- Corporate professionals and organizations – Professional marketers and communicators that provide design and visual communication services for organizations –be it in-house or as their clients– of variable sizes including large global agencies, big non-profits, and Fortune 500 companies.
- Media and broadcast companies – Digital publications, newspapers, books, magazines, television, and film companies, from independent bloggers to multi-national corporations.
- Small and medium-sized businesses and individual creators – Ranging from casual creators and social media influencers to business owners and freelancer professionals, companies of all sizes license content from Shutterstock for their visual needs.
Websites Using Shutterstock Around the World
Enough of the financial graph. Another good way of gaining insight into Shutterstock's customer base is to check the number of websites using its service. Here we have some metrics on this, from the team to Built With.
|Websites Actively Using Shutterstock||Websites that Historically Use Shutterstock|
Now let's break that down to see the top five countries with more Shutterstock users:
|Country||Number of Websites Using Shutterstock|
It might not be a shock that Shutterstock's market is mostly concentrated in the US, and in English-speaking countries –from the top five, only one of them doesn't have English as the official and main spoken language–. But it is interesting that the US alone makes up for 41.17% of the total active user websites. In comparison, the other four countries together only represent 17.11% of the total website user base.
Data analytics on the performance of the agency's website (Shutterstock.com) is a good indicator of how successful or popular it is. We can share these numbers from Similarweb.com, up to date as far as March 2022:
|Global Rank||Country Rank (USA)||Category Rank (Photography – USA)|
This is an overview of the main rankings, country, and global, as well as categories. We can see Shutterstock does considerably well in all three.
In terms of traffic and engagement, see this:
- Shutterstock had a total of 204.9 million visits in the first three months of 2022, 70 million of them in the month of March 2022 alone.
- The bounce rate –people leaving the site after seeing only one page and without taking any actions– is 49.38%
- Their traffic is 89.20% organic and the rest is paid.
- They have 18,000 keywords. Top keywords include “Shutterstock”, “stock photos” and variations of the Shutterstock name in different languages.
This data analysis includes traffic from all browsers on desktop and mobile platforms. As you can see, it's quite a popular site, and visibility online doesn't seem to be a problem for this agency.
Wonder how Shutterstock fares in the industry regarding its competitors? Here are some statistics on Shutterstock’s share in the market, courtesy of Datanyze.com.
This is very relevant data, in our opinion: Shutterstock has a huge advantage over other sites offering similar services. It has a whopping 45% more of a chunk of the pie than the nearest competitor, iStock (formerly iStockphoto).
In its annual report 2021, Shutterstock highlights its main competitors and mention:
Similar stock media and workflow services – They list Getty Images and its daughter company iStock, Adobe Stock, VimeoStock, Canva, and, interestingly, Pond5 –which they ended up acquiring in 2022. You'll notice that both iStock and Adobe Stock (Adobe Stock Stats here) are indeed within the top 5 for competitors.
Regionally-specialized stock media companies – Here they mention Visual China Group, a large stock photography agency that leads in the Asian market, and not surprisingly they're exclusive distributors for Getty Images in the region.
Stock music services – Among the listed are Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music
Publishing and Warner/Chappell Music.
Image search and discovery platforms – Here they bring up none other than Google Images.
Image hosting platforms – Flickr is the main competitor in this segment, according to them.
Free stock photo providers (and all other free stock media and resources offerings) – Although they don't mention any brand or site, in particular, we want to highlight that Unsplash –a free photo site that was more recently acquired by Getty Images– is indeed on the top 5 rankings.
Social media platforms – We all know who those are!
Commissioned photographers and photography services – Again no names are mentioned but the dichotomy of stock photography vs commissioned photography is at the core of the market competition since the beginning.
Self-generated content – Very interesting is that Shutterstock still highlights users creating their own content or simply not buying stock photos due to a lack of knowledge on how they work, as a competitive factor. Even in 2021.
For more insight, check out our Stock Photo Market Report.
Shutterstock was born as and still is a stock photos agency. Royalty free images are at the core of the offer, but it has long ago expanded to include vectors (illustrations and graphics), design templates, stock footage, and stock music. These numbers give you an idea of how rich their offer is.
|Asset||Number of files|
Shutterstock has one of the largest stock media catalogs on the web, and its number of images shows it, but they built this library over time. When it launched in 2003, the site only had 30,000 photos –all shot and owned by founder Jon Oringer himself–, but soon added content from contributors. The offer has been growing exponentially ever since. Have a look:
|At Launch in 2003||In 2010||In 2022 so far|
|Images||30,000||11 million||406 million|
As you can see, the agency is strongly committed to growing its visual offer constantly. They curate all the content that fills their submissions inbox –well over 100,000 files per day!– against very high-quality standards. On this day, they are adding hundreds of thousands of new images to the site every week.
If you wish to contribute to Shutterstock's growing library and make money on the platform, read our Shutterstock Contributor review, everything you need to know is there.
It's very relevant to include in this report that Shutterstock is strongly focused on AI tech development, particularly in generative AI technology applied to creating and editing images.
In 2023 Shutterstock launched a proprietary AI image generator named Shutterstock Generate, which lets users create new images from text prompts (written descriptions). Based on the generative AI model from OpenAI, Dall-E –which whom Shutterstock has an ongoing partnership–, this tool is trained solely with Shutterstock content, making it a lot more ethical and legally safe to use than other similar apps.
Plus, Shutterstock also began accepting AI-generated images from contributors in 2023 under certain special conditions. Customers can now license synthetic pictures either by selecting them from Shutterstock's catalog or by creating them themselves using Shutterstock Generate – the AI image generator is free for all to use, but downloading and using an image created with it requires paying for a license.
In the second half of 2023, Shutterstock is intensely working to further its AI offer. It has ongoing partnerships with high-profile companies such as NVIDIA and Meta to develop more and better AI visual features, and is actively involved in helping define a legal frame for AI-generated media and responsible use of generative AI technology.
For fascinating insights into AI-generated imagery's transformative impact on the creative landscape, explore everypixels detailed AI image statistics for 2023 report.
So far, in 2022, Shutterstock has acquired two companies. But in its entire history, they have acquired nine companies, investing at least $509 million – this figure does not account for four acquisitions whose cost was not made public.
|Company||Acquisition Year||Amount Paid|
|Rex Features||2015||$33 million|
|Splash News||2022||Non disclosed|
Shutterstock has its online platform but also operates a few daughter companies.
|Offset*||Premium stock photography|
|PremiumBeat||Premium stock music|
|Shutterstock Editorial (Previously Rex Features)||Editorial stock media|
|PicMonkey||Photo editing & graphic design|
|Pond5||Premium royalty-free and editorial video, music, and sound effects|
Except for Bigstock -a competing site, they bought back in 2009–, these subsidiaries focus on expanding the offer for image buyers and creatives of all avenues looking for stock media content by providing premium collections, different licensing conditions, additional media content, and workflow tools.
It's worth noting here that Shutterstock, like many companies operating worldwide, also has regional/local subsidiaries to their main website and service. So while the total number of Shutterstock subsidiaries is 13, the above-listed are the ones that truly represent a daughter company offering a specific service on their own domains online.
In 2021, Shutterstock invested an undisclosed amount in VidMob. They also made a lead investment in ZCool, back in 2018.
|Invested in||Year||Amount invested|
This agency isn't one for investing in other companies, it seems. But keeping in mind how many acquisitions they've completed in 19 years of operations and how much they've spent on them, it's clear that's where their investing efforts are focused.
Shutterstock received funding from investor Insight Partners back in 2013 as part of their venture investment round. Any of the companies did not disclose the amount.
This firm was initially bootstrapped by founder Jon Oringer and has grown without a lot of external funding ever since. It's worth mentioning here that it's been publicly traded for ten years –it was introduced on the New York Stock Exchange at the end of 2012–.
To end this Shutterstock statistics overview, we'll leave some predictions about the main numbers at the end of 2022 and in the coming years.
|Concept||At the end of 2022||In 2024|
|Revenue||284 million||967 million|
|Net income||93 million||151 million|
|Number of images||410 million||540 million|
And there you have it, that is Shutterstock in numbers. Were you aware they were so huge?