Getty-Images: Q4FY07 Earnings call fog

We could debunk every statement Getty-Images made in its recent earnings call but we’ve essentially done so in our extensive blogs about the company. Apart from the negative outcome of the call, we instead want to highlight the systemic attitudinal problem of the company.

First off, Getty’s success is based on the fact that it believes it can predict how images (or other media assets) are going to be used by the buyer. It continuously re-purposes images and image rights to meet a supposed buying trends it is never going to be able to predict. With massive changes in photography Getty has frequently trailed trends rather than enabled them. The usage of the image should be determined between seller and buyer, with Getty’s infrastructure merely supporting that transaction.

Second, the usage and type classification in the earnings call is the kind of double dipping I’ve seen many companies in trouble do. There is a dramatic overlap between editorial, creative, rights managed, royalty free, royalty ready and a myriad of other popular image definitions. The sole metric of success for the company is number of images sold at what ASP, and at what cost. No Wall-Street investor will be able to make sense of the fog Getty has put up in the conference call to hide the fact that organic growth is miserable.

Third, Getty arrogantly describes their (lackluster) performance as the market trend, as if they are the market. No, Getty, the market of image usage is actually growing faster than you are able to support. The real news is that Getty is losing market-share.

The lack of transparency makes Getty-Images an un-investable business, both from a market and acquisition perspective. The bottom line from the call simply confirms that, forget about everything in-between.


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