Unsplash, the Montreal-based free image library created by founder Mikael Cho, is being acquired by Getty Images.
Cho said Unsplash will continue to operate as a standalone brand and division of Getty Images, and will hire more people as it ramps up new projects.
“This is not one of those tech acquisitions where the company is bought to be shut down,” wrote Cho in a blog post. “The entire Unsplash team will be staying and building Unsplash in the direction we have been. 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.”
Unsplash has over two million high quality, high-resolution images on its website available for free download. The company passed two billion image downloads in 2020 and just passed three billion downloads recently. Unsplash for Brands tripled in size, and the company recently launched Unsplash Hire.
In partnership with Getty Images, Unsplash will be “hiring and adding resources to bring each of these parts of Unsplash to full bloom much quicker than we could have done alone.”
Meanwhile, Getty Images said 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.”
“We are excited for what’s to come,” added Cho. “It’s been nearly eight years since Unsplash began as a Tumblr blog with ten images. Since then, Unsplash grew into something greater than we ever could have imagined.”
Relationship began in 2016
Cho wrote that Unsplash’s relationship with Getty Images began in 2016. But Cho didn’t know if the two sides could ever work together since Getty was largely built on licensing.
“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,'” wrote Cho.
PetaPixel writes that Unsplash “has been somewhat controversial among photographers over the years, as people see it as a contributor to lowering the pay rate bar for both stock photographers and the value of photography overall. With more than 100 million images downloaded every month, the platform is clearly popular.”
Although specific terms of this acquisition were not disclosed, Getty Images says it’s a cash deal that is set to close at the end of the month.
Unsplash previously raised $30.3 million USD over 3 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Aug 4, 2019 from a Series B round. It’s dozen investors includes Montreal’s Real Ventures.