Shutterstock: new DAM vendor via WebDAM acquisition?

Commercial stock photo provider Shutterstock decided to acquire WebDAM – a DAM vendor we cover extensively in our Digital & Media Asset Management research. For customers, the outcome of this acquisition could go in one of two directions.

First, Shutterstock may decide to cross-sell WebDAM along with their stock photos, becoming a full-fledged DAM provider - similar to their chief competitor, Getty. Alternatively, it could be that Shutterstock was simply unhappy with its current photo management tool, and decided to change out its backend technology to better serve a growing number of customers. With many of those customers being larger companies, agencies and media organizations, it might make more sense to buy ready-to-serve tech than bake something from scratch in house.

It is fair to say that Shutterstock is one of the major players in the stock photo market, with iStockphoto, Corbis and Getty playing in the same field. Improved customer satisfaction and experience management is what may allow Shutterstock to differentiate itself from the pack, and this is where a DAM product like WebDAM can play a crucial role. Many large ad agencies, like Hogarth, take a similar approach - offering product and service in one package.

WebDAM is a small-ish California-based company of 25 employees. While it is very difficult to differentiate the product in the current crowded DAM market, WebDAM is pushing its cloud/SaaS, web-based DAM agenda. However, there’s little uniqueness in this proposition, as many DAM vendors provide some type of web interface, as well as cloud options of various flavors. For Shutterstock, in the meantime, the appeal is newer technology that is WebDAM, and the ability to put the Shutterstock “face” on top of this DAM system. They can also use it as a portal for licensing, downloading, storing and sharing of digital assets. For stock photo houses and creative agencies alike, it makes sense to own business-critical technology like DAM in this case.

WebDAM founders Jody Vandergriff and Steve Rabkin (who will stay on, by the way, according to the company’s announcement), have never took outside investment, so it’s a natural development to sell when the time and the money is right.

While both companies assure us that WebDAM will maintain its brand identity, we would advise you to look at WebDAM more cautiously in the light of this acquisition. Although WebDAM boasts high customer retention rates, the company’s culture is hectic -- and virtually nothing brings more chaos than an acquisition. This transition into the new parent company will likely make things more unstable, at least in the near term, for both current customers and prospects.

Feel free to contact us to schedule a consultation on this matter, or any other DAM question you may have.

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