Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images. Image courtesy of Getty Images.
The deal will see Carlyle acquire a controlling stake in Getty Images, while co-founder and chairman Mark Getty and the Getty family "will roll substantially all of their ownership interests into the transaction". In 2008, their ownership represented 15% of the company's share. Jonathan Klein, Getty co-founder and chief executive officer, will also invest "significant equity" in the company.
BJP news and online editor Olivier Laurent speaks with Jonathan Klein about the deal.
BJP: Why this deal? Why now?
Jonathan Klein: This deal is happening now because Hellman & Friedman typically owns a business for three years on average. It has owned Getty Images for about four years now. A few months ago, they thought there would be a lot of interest for Getty Images, just from private equity firms – and there was. We had enormous interest in the company throughout the process. We had lots of private equity firms looking at us, extremely impressed by the company and our position in the imagery market. At the end of the day, Carlyle teamed up with the Getty family and management to buy Getty Images from Hellman. The timing worked, and Hellman & Friedman were very happy with the price. The family and management are comfortable with the arrangements with The Carlyle Group, so that's why it's happening now.
BJP: What is the arrangement between Carlyle and the Getty family and management?
Jonathan Klein: What it means is that instead of the Getty family selling and getting cash, and the management team selling and getting cash, the Getty family is not selling – they're exchanging their shares for shares in the new company, while the management team is taking some cash and investing some money back into the business for the next period of growth.
BJP: You're now talking about taking the company into the next phase of development and growth. What is that phase?
Jonathan Klein: The main thing around that is: more international. We're going to be investing more in Asia/Pacific, the Middle East and Latin America. The second part is to grow our ThinkStock subscription business more aggressively. And thirdly, our editorial imagery business is really strong, and we will be more aggressive in expanding that – in particular internationally. We're obviously really strong in the UK and US, but not internationally. We also have some new product – in particular Connect (an API service), which has about 100 customers so far, but we only launched it a few months ago. We're thinking about being more aggressive in selling Connect though our salesforce. We're also [focusing on the Getty brand, what it's about]. Many people in the UK think Getty is an archive. In other countries, people think Getty just does editorial, or just sports, or stock photography. In fact, we're the largest global platform for imagery. Full stop. So we'll be doing more of that.
BJP: How is The Carlyle Group going to help with this?
Jonathan Klein: What The Carlyle Group has is enormous scale internationally. Out of all the private equity firms, they're the most international. They will help us with customer relationships and open doors for us where we are now as strong as we are in some of the English-speaking parts of the world.
BJP: What about Reportage by Getty Images? What will this deal mean for them?
Jonathan Klein: The key is that the culture of our company, and what we care about and what we think is important, won't change. So what we've done in the photojournalism world in the last four or five years is very important for us. Our support for photojournalism globally – whether it's through the Grants programme or supporting Perpignan or various other areas – will not change. They understand that, and they know it's important. We also think the future of photojournalism is important to the world, and it's important to Getty Images. That won't change at all.
BJP: What does this deal mean to your contributors? Will it change anything?
Jonathan Klein: No. Nothing will change for them, just like the Hellman deal didn't change anything for them.
BJP: This is a $3.3bn transaction. Compared with how Getty Images started 17 years ago, what would you say to people who believe that Getty has lost its soul?
Jonathan Klein: I would say we have a deeper, richer culture than we've had in the past. We're still totally committed to imagery. We're committed to innovation. We have been responsible for almost all innovations in this industry in the past 20 years. Yet we're still pretty much the same team. The team that runs the company - the 12 most senior people in the company - all of them, except the CFO, have been with the company for at least 10 years. It's very much all the same team. It's harder when you get bigger, there's no question about that, but we've worked really hard to try to keep that intimate feel, not to have too many layers, and to have close relationships with image partners, clients and photographers.
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