Getty Images, the iconic digital photography provider and visual content marketplace, will become publicly traded again, more than a decade after it was taken private, in a deal that values the company at $4.8 billion.
The company will remain headquartered in Seattle after the acquisition by CC Neuberger Principal Holdings II, a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, a Getty spokesperson confirmed this morning.
Getty has more than 350 employees in the Seattle area, including a major tech operation, out of 1,600 employees globally.
Getty Images co-founder Mark Getty, who will remain the company’s chairman, called the deal “another milestone in the transformation of Getty Images.” As a public company, Getty Images “will be able to aggressively invest in more product and service solutions to address the needs of all of our customers,” he said in a statement.
Craig Peters, who joined Getty Images in 2007 and became CEO in 2019, is expected to remain in the role after the deal closes.
Founded in London in 1995, Getty merged with Seattle-based stock photo provider PhotoDisc in 1997, and later moved its own headquarters to Seattle. Getty reached a deal in 2016 to manage the archive of Corbis Images, its longtime Seattle-based rival, when Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates sold Corbis to Visual China Group.
Getty’s plan to return to the public markets also shines a new light on its finances. The company’s revenue declined to $814 million in 2020, from $846 million in 2019, and $868 million in 2018, according to financial statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in conjunction with the SPAC deal.
The company’s net loss improved to $39 million last year, from a loss of $51 million the year before. However, after adjusting that number for costs including $125 million in interest expense and a $59 million hit from foreign exchange rates, the company said its profits would have been $269 million last year.
Getty has been weighed down by debt since its 2012 acquisition by The Carlyle Group. About $576 million of the expected $1.38 billion in cash from the SPAC deal will go toward paying down existing debt.
In an investor presentation accompanying the announcement, Getty pointed to growth potential in areas including video and international markets, and pointed to steady increases in its subscription business, which accounted for 46% of total revenue in 2020, up from 29% five years earlier.
Getty noted that its marketing spending is about 6% of total revenues, compared with 12% of revenues spent on marketing by its rival Shutterstock, citing a “significant opportunity” to capture more of the global market by boosting its own sales and marketing spending following the completion of the deal.
The company also includes the iStock and Unsplash photography marketplaces.
The transaction is scheduled to be completed in the first half of next year. Getty will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “GETY.”