Unsplash, which has built a platform for sharing stock photos, is set to be acquired by Getty Images.
While the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Unsplash co-founder and CEO Mikael Cho noted in a blog post that Unsplash will continue to operate as a standalone brand and division of Getty Images. Getty Images plans to fund the transaction from existing cash balances. The deal is expected to close shortly, around the end of this month.
“I’m so proud of what the Unsplash community and team has created,” said Cho. “And it’s only the beginning. This partnership is an important milestone for Unsplash, but our mission of Photos for Everyone remains unchanged. We are very excited to partner with Getty Images to move the industry forward together.”
“This partnership is an important milestone for Unsplash, but our mission of Photos for Everyone remains unchanged.”
– Mikael Cho, Unsplash
Cho, along with his fellow Unsplash founders, Luke Chesser and Stephanie Liverani, will continue to lead and operate the Unsplash business as a division of Getty Images. Unsplash is set to maintain its free content model.
Cho added in his blog post that the entire Unsplash team is set to stay on following the deal. “The main difference now is we have access to the resources and experience of Getty Images to help accelerate our plans to create the world’s most useful visual asset library,” the CEO said.
“We’ll be hiring and adding resources to bring each of these parts of Unsplash to full bloom much quicker than we could have done alone,” added Cho.
Unsplash was started in 2013 as a Tumblr blog. It began as a spin-out of Montréal design startup Crew after the company hired a local photographer to take some photos for a project and decided that they ought to do something with the extra unused images. In 2017, the Montréal startup sold Crew to focus on Unsplash.
According to Crunchbase, Unsplash has raised more than $30 million to date. In 2018, the startup raised a Series A round, which included fiat currency as well as tokens. Unsplash planned to launch its own token as a way to reward creators contributing free content to the site, as it looked for a way to monetize its free stock photo platform.
To date, Unsplash has grown to a platform with more than 2 million free images, tens of millions of users, and thousands of partner integrations through the Unsplash API. This year, more than two billion images have been downloaded from Unsplash on a global scale.
“We could not be happier to welcome Unsplash to the Getty Images family,” said Craig Peters, CEO of Getty Images. “The Unsplash team share our values and share our vision of enabling global creativity and communication. We are impressed by what the Unsplash team and community has built and we look forward to supporting their continued development.”
Getty Images is a major visual media company that provides images and videos to the largest media and corporate organizations globally. With the world’s deepest digital archive of historic photography, Getty Images also handles more than 425 million images and videos.
According to Cho, the Unsplash team first met with the Getty Images team in 2016. “We weren’t sure they would see the world the same way we did given their business was largely built on licensing,” said Cho. “Over years of conversations, however, we learned about the level of respect they had for the Unsplash community and the rights of creators to choose how and where their imagery is made available. Craig Peters, Getty Images CEO, told me, ‘We have so much admiration for Unsplash. What you’re doing for creativity and what you’ve built is incredible.'”
Getty Images offers its own platform for sharing and downloading images, iStock by Getty Images, and the company noted that “through the combination of the Getty Images, iStock and Unsplash brands, and their corresponding websites and APIs, Getty Images will be uniquely positioned to reach and enable creativity and communications across the full spectrum of the world’s growing creative community.”