Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Getty goes multimedia, acquires smaller firm

Stock-art seller branches into video and multimedia, acquires PunchStock for more imagery.

By Stephen Shankland Stock photo seller Getty Images launched a new division Monday for selling licenses to footage and multimedia content, then on Tuesday announced the latest in a series of acquisitions, PunchStock.

Leading the multimedia group is Craig Peters, who joined Getty through its acquisition last week of MediaVast and its subsidiary WireImage, which licenses video content. Peters was senior vice president of new media at MediaVast.

PunchStock, based in Madison, Wis., adds a third stock image unit to the company, supplementing Getty's core business and the newer iStockphoto acquired in 2006. PunchStock offers simpler licensing and search, Getty said.

Getty has been reshaping its business through recent acquisitions. In March, Getty acquired Scoopt, a site that sells amateur photos to the news media. "Citizen journalism is 2,000 years old," Getty CEO Jonathan Klein said in an interview earlier this week, arguing that amateurs can supplement professional coverage and that Getty can assure media outlets using that content that its provenance is sound.

Getty announced the PunchStock acquisition along with its financial results for the quarter ended March 31. The Seattle-based company's revenue increased 6 percent to $213 million compared with the year earlier, and net income was $38 million, or 63 cents per share.

The company also announced it's restating financial results from 1998 through the first half of 2006 to deal with errors in its stock-based compensation. To correct the situation, the company expects to take a noncash charge of $28 million to $32 million, 95 percent of which involves finances in 2002 and earlier years.

A special committee investigating the stock situation concluded in April that the evidence "did not establish any intentional wrongdoing by current employees, officers or directors of the company, and the special committee continues to have confidence in the integrity of current management."

(thanks, Owen)