Your Indie.vc approach is a breath of fresh air! Hope it works.
Our paths crossed briefly with an intro from Tim 0’Reilly, who visited my art installation in Kansas City some years ago. I pitched OATV. You and Mark Jacobsen passed. Yet everything I said, back then, about the future of photography was prescient. That $14B business — Getty Images and Shutterstock in particular— is still vulnerable to complete and utter discombobulation.
Despite increasing demand for photographic illustration and combined sales in the billions of dollars, revenue has been static for a decade. Incumbents swap revenue back and forth with each other like squeezing air in a balloon. One gets bigger, the others get smaller, and vice versa. Not one company can increase revenue by raising prices because buyers complain about poor quality content. They can’t increase quality because the prices they charge, constrained by their own business model, are too low to attract better content contributors. They can’t pivot without cannibalizing their existing business. Money is left on the table that buyers tell us they’re willing to pay for dynamically replenished, premium content. I know how to create a cartel of that content and turn the $14B business of Commercial Photo inside out like a sock.
But even the Indie.vc application process, despite its innovative approach, contnues to force square pegs into round holes.
In Commercial Photo, it’s not an inclination of market forces that keeps prices down. 90% of the most sought-after imagemakers in the world deliberately withhold their premium content from online sales. As I said years ago, the so-called “democratization of content” is a red herring n this industry.
If the most tried-and-true investment thesis is to take an essential marketplace that’s not digital and make it digital, so symmetrical data exchanged between sellers and buyers can be captured in the cloud and provide actionable intelligence throughout a consolidated market network—well, that‘s Commercial Photography. It still runs on 1998 tech. Most transactions are on paper; e.g., “your check is in the mail.”
I’ve written a white paper, posted on Medium. It explains why I have applied to Indie.vc. The problem I have to overcome with investors is NOT overcoming unfamiliarity the photo market, but that everybody thinks they already know it.