CEO Q&A: Jon Oringer, Shutterstock

CEO of Shutterstock, Jon Oringer, talks to Brittaney Kiefer about the turning point in video production and content-creation opportunities.

CEO of Shutterstock, Jon Oringer, talks to Brittaney Kiefer about the turning point in video production and content-creation opportunities. 

Shutterstock went public last October. What was that process like?
We started the company back in 2003, and we started thinking about whether we'd take this step [of going public] three or four years ago. It was a methodical, slow process where we very carefully thought about each step and waited until the perfect time – when we had a solid business model and could explain it, and had a predictable revenue stream to go out and convey that confidence to investors.

We really took our time with the process and obsessed over every detail. We took a lot of experts' opinions into account, and I talked to a lot of CEOs who had done it before. Our bankers and our PR team were a great help. We really just wanted to tell the story exactly as it is and let investors decide for themselves.

What's ahead for 2013?
Video footage is a big growth area. When I started the company, digital SLR cameras were getting more powerful and cheaper every day. It was a turning point for professional photographers. We are starting to see that with video.

You can now buy a digital SLR camera for $1,000 and it shoots HD video, so it's getting into more hands than before.  The complexity of video editing software has also been reduced. It's a powerful turning point we are at right now. Prices and software complexity have come down and a lot more people have these devices. With more devices around us that can stream a lot of data, marketing is starting to become more of a motion medium than a still medium.

We're sensing the need for more marketing professionals to use motion content.

Large enterprises are another big area for us. Nine years ago, we started as a company that sold to small businesses. We now sell to businesses of all sizes. We provide invoicing and large site licenses, and we're building out sales teams internationally.

How is Shutterstock expanding globally?
We've been global since 2005 and have translated the site into 10 different languages. We have 35,000 photographers from 100 countries and sell in 150 countries.

But we need to become a lot more local. We're improving our search engine in different languages and using data to improve our metrics. We are trying to get more local content from the countries where we sell. A typical issue is content creators assume that buyers want specific kinds of content. We have to break that habit and have them shoot people in all the countries they're in, creating very local content, which is not something they'd assume a business in the US would want, for example

We're teaching our contributors that the content they create needs to be more diverse.

What do you consider an effective PR strategy?
We like our PR strategy to speak for itself with the innovation we build upon. The first step is building great things. The second is being an integrated team. Then we have to make sure we're telling really compelling stories.

Social media is also important. We talk to our customers and contributors in all different countries on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and on-line forums. 

Every channel has a different audience and content. On Foursquare, for example, we might check in at different events or create lists such as the top 10 places to shop for equipment.

What should people understand about Shutterstock as it enters a new year?
We are a technology company.  We sell media, but we look at everything in a metrics space. Even on the social side, we're always trying to find those nuanced network effect loops that will get the word out. In every way we're a tech company built completely in the digital photo and footage world, and we use data to drive every process we have and to drive the best experience possible.

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