February 2006 Archives
Have you noticed that thestreet.com is thriving? Its stock price has climbed dramatically over the previous 12 months and it is finally making money.
Certainly the company is well run. But I have to think that founder Jim Cramer's huge exposure on CNBC with his "Mad Money" cable show is 60% of the reason thestreet.com is now thriving.
What a great combination! A financial Web site that gets hundreds of hours of cable TV promotion for free. Everyone knows that Cramer is "thestreet.com" and his airtime just reinforces the brand.
We see a cnn.com benefiting from the cable channel CNN. There are countless other examples similar to CNN. But there are not many examples similar to how Jim Cramer and thestreet.com benefit with this terrific promotion tie-in. Jim owns nearly 2 million shares (about 8%)of the company.
I am envious! Perhaps I should start a cable TV show about images? I doubt I can rant and rave as well as Jim Cramer. However I do have one thing in common with Jim - we are both bald.
Rather than elaborate on our decision making process on this move, read the above link. The story includes comments from Picture Arts founder and stock photo luminary Jeff Burke. Burke lays out our strategy and future plans.
Jeff has been an incredible bulwark since coming to Jupiterimages. We make few moves without checking with Jeff. Having a person like Jeff is a tremendous advantage for Jupiterimages. You can bet that if Jeff was willing to drop the PA sites that our strategy is on the mark. I can tell you that traffic at Jupiterimages.com is building - a sure sign that sophisticated picture buyers know that Jupiterimages is now a commercial image powerhouse.
Beauty Archive Acquisition
Earlier this week we bought one of the classiest Rights Managed collections - Beauty Archive. Beauty Archive was created by noted photographer Hywell Jones. Check out this report on the acquisition of yet another important Rights Managed collection.
Several months ago I wrote about my experiences with Google desktop search. I had liked the service, but felt it slowed down my computer's performance. I switched to Microsoft's desktop search and used it for a few months. The Microsoft search worked reasonably well, but I found difficulty in opening emails. I also found that it was not as efficient Google's.
Recently I switched back to Google's latest version and find it a great aid for finding old contacts and emails. Also the new version does not slow down my computer.
I just had another experience with a desktop application. I inadvertently downloaded a weather channel application that provides the current temperature every few minutes. The temperature number sits on the desktop tray. If you click on the temperature icon you get a complete weather center on your screen with lots of information.
I like the service, but just uninstalled it. It turned out to be the worst bandwidth hog I have encountered. My email slowed to a crawl.
Unistalling was easy --- this turned out to be the best feature of the program!
Barron's, the financial weekly, cover story last weekend questions Google's future and its stockprice.
Seeing the cover headline brought back memories of Barron's March 2000 story about the cash "Burn Rates" of publicly traded Internet companies. Writer Jack Willoughby's indepth reporting and analysis demonstrated that 90 percent of the then traded Internet companies would run out of money in coming months and questioned the validity of their respective market valuations.
Willoughby's story started the now famous crash of Internet stock prices. By the end of 2000 most Internet stocks had valuation drops of greater than 80% from pricing at the time the article appeared.
I will not analyze writer Jacqueline Doherty's article, but will leave you with the cover quote: "Google shares have begun to take on water in recent weeks and they are likely to sink further, perhaps as low as 188 from last week's 360. Blame click fraud, rising competition from Microsoft and Yahoo!, plus a nagging question: How well do Google ads actually work?"
I would be remiss if I did not mention a good analysis by Stock Asylum of this deal.
Now we need Jim Pickerell's thoughts on this deal to get the whole picture on what our industry's pundits think about the spectacular Getty Images move. Unfortunately Jim's ideas are only available to paid subscribers.
Andy Goetz mentions the Getty Images purchase of istockphoto. He also states that I was incorrect in my 24 January post about "Getty getting community sites." Actually Andy if you read what I said you have it wrong. I was referring to the dozens of large ecommerce business units in the world who have no community to go along with thriving ecommerce businesses.
As an aside, Getty is not using community as part of this deal. They are running, according the press release, istockphoto as a separate company. There is no linkage. Therefore, I stand by what I said that most ecommerce companies do not understand community.
Listen to CEO Jonathan Klein's comments on his financial quarterly conference call last April. At the end of the call he was asked what he thought of the subscription photo image business. His response included the word "crap." His comments could only be interpreted to mean that any subscription offering in the commercial image space was "crap."
Yesterday CEO Klein plunked down $50 million for a subscription photo image business that contains photos shot by amateurs. Quite a turnaround by Mr. Klein! I presume that $50 million means that "crap" sells?
Interesting developments today!
Getty Images announced that they purchased stock photo micropayment site istockphoto.com for $50 million. This purchase suggests that Getty Images has validated what we at Jupiterimages have been stating for two years: the great growth in the image market is going to reside with image buyers with limited budgets. These buyers will buy lots of images, but do not want to pay huge prices. Getty Images' business was built on the idea of charging through the nose for images. Now times are changing due to Web marketing and a variety of other busines pressures.
Jupiterimages recognized this trend dating back to 2003 and accordingly has purchased many prize properties that appeal to the budget conscious image buyer. I have been calling this trend the "Wal-Martizing" of the commercial image marketplace. Few believed me, but now we have the Getty validation of the importance of this "new" marketplace.
This trend does not mean that the so-called "higher end" of the image marketplace is dead. On the contrary, the high-end buyer is here to stay. However the big growth in the next 10 years will be on the budget side of the image marketplace.
Our Photos.com competes quite effectively with istockphoto. We bought photos.com in 2003, and it continues to grow smartly. It too offers (through its subscription plans) photos for as little as $1 apiece. The major difference between the two services is that photos.com has photos that are shot by professionals whereas istockphoto's images are shot by amateurs and fledgling professionals. The other difference is that photos.com owns its own photos and thus has far greater operating margins than a micropayment site.
Our recent investment for nearly 50% of Haap Media and its two Web sites: stockxpert.com and stock.xchng illustrated our savvy in understanding the value of the potential growth of stock photo micropayment type operations such as istockphoto. We believe that stockxpert.com is a significant player in the micropayment arena and that stockx.chng is one of the largest image community sites in the world (check out the Google rankings on both of these fine properties).
In the meantime Jupiterimages has continued to build and to aggressively compete at the higher end of the image market -- one in which our market share is growing. We recently added 30 additional sales people from across the USA -- many of these individuals have joined us from image companies that are well known in the commercial arena. These seasoned professionals joined Jupiterimages because they recognize that the better growth opportunity in the high end market place is now with Jupiterimages.
My final comment today is that we served Getty Images today with a demand letter that it stop selling images from our recently purchased French company Stock Image (which includes Pixland). I might be wrong, but I doubt anyone in the image business has ever told Getty Images to stop selling a brand(s)? Many readers of this post know that Getty Images has made lots of news over the previous 10 months telling Jupiterimages that it would no longer distribute images owned by Jupiterimages' brands. Now the tables have been turned.
Jupiterimages is now self-sufficient. It does not need any involvement with Getty Images to be successful. Jupiterimages now has its own powerful worldwide distribution arm to go along with a network of over 220 other distributors.
We look forward to working with anyone in the image business that wants a fair and mutually beneficial business arrangement. In the meantime we continue to work hard at keeping the lead as the largest owner of digitized images of all types in the world.
Jupitermedia's terrific Washington, DC based reporter Roy Mark, has a marvelous little piece on an online gambling site called youwager.com based in Costa Rica. Youwager is run by an American who moved to Costa Rica 11 years ago because of the absurd American online betting and casino laws.
I have no idea if youwager's owner is correct, but he claims that of the $100 billion that will be bet every year, only 1 percent of the total will be wagered in Las Vegas.
Our legislators in Washington need to wake up and get the tax dollars that we are missing from online wagering of every type.
We recently launched a new Flash site which sells flash components by subscription.
The excitement here is that this is just another piece we are putting together for our continuing quest to be the number one company worldwide for anything flash.
We can start with flashkit.com. Over 500,000 flash developers are members of this site. They can find lots of information about flash development issues as well as a heavily used message board. We have lots of ads here, but we also can push our house flash products such as the above mentioned flashfoundry.com, our recently purchased flash movie site called bigshotmedia.com, and our recently purchased and now thriving flash music site - bbm.net.
Flashkit.com is a hub with one million daily page views. In other words this is a demonstration of how a focused community site such as flashkit can be tied together with related ecommerce offerings (flashfoundry, bigshotmedia, bbm.net) to make a terrific business model.
Watch Jupitermeda do this over and over again in the images arena. We have already shown the Internet world how to do this with trade shows and research, and now we are doing it with images.
Michel Rawicki is a luminary in the French stock photo producer world and we are pleased that Michel will continue to produce photos for Jupiterimages for years to come. We have a similar arrangement with the equally talented Philippe Bigard who is the creator of our Goodshoot royalty free photo brand.
Along with the acquisition of significant royalty free and rights managed collections, we have recently acquired both a royalty free distributor (PR Direct) and and a rights managed distributor (AgenceImages). We are rapidly moving towards integrating these acquisitions. But we are now a leading player in the French commercial image market.
We are not only concentrating on France. We have, under the guidance of Jonathan Gibson, a very strong distribution network throughout Europe --it might very well be the best. And increasingly we are making specific strategic moves in a variety of European countries.
Needless to say, there is more to come in Jupiterimages' evolution as a leading world player in the image arena.
Whenever I read about Google I always have to pinch myself to make sure I am not back in late 1999 and early 2000 when a rumor could move an Internet stock 30 percent in a flash. I remember the now defunct Vertical Net moving 100 points in two days on a rumor of doing a deal with Microsoft (January 2000). (I might also add that I predicted Vertical Net would fail as a company in June 1999--and it did.)
Regardless of the quarterly numbers published yesterday, Google is still on a roll. I am not suggesting that anybody buy the stock (I happened to have sold my Google position a few days ago). On the other hand, I would not bet against Google's business prospects.
It was interesting to see that Google has now offered the first bit of financial guidance (they gave out what their tax rate would be in 06). Previously Google stated it would give no guidance. My bet is that this will soon change as Google realizes that if analysts are not given more guidance than their stock will be more susceptible to wild swings as quarterly numbers are published.
And while on the topic of Search, the Search Engine Strategies trade show opens in New York City at the end of this month. While we no longer own the show, we still help operate the Web sites surrounding the show for a few more months and I can tell you that SES New York will be bigger than ever. I have always said that the SES shows are a barometer of the future of paid search. Based on what I know about the NYC show, paid search is bigger than ever.