Kelly Thompson became COO of iStockphoto in September 2008, a few months before Founder & CEO Bruce Livingstone left the company.
In his new position Kelly is responsible for the future of the world´s - in absolute numbers - economically most successful microstock agency, which employs a staff of 115 in Calgary (including contractors and the Berlin office) and additionally 110 image inspectors around the globe, in total about 225 people.
Recently I spoke to Kelly and asked him: what is the future focus of iStockphoto under the COO Kelly Thompson?
"I´m a pretty technical guy: I have a computer science degree with a specialty in UI design and worked at a major enterprise search company for a long time, so you´ll see a focus on that for me.
Bruce left the company in brilliant shape with the content we have: I might be biased, but I think we have some of the best content on the planet, micro or not - as Vetta attests to.
So now we´ll focus on getting that content in front of people more efficiently and more intelligently. We want the best customer experience we can possibly deliver and we have some exciting ideas to make that happen.
At this stage in the industry, the most important thing is no longer the price of the image - we won that game.
Now it´s more important how quickly you get the right image in front of someone and how relevant it is to their search. And we know that keeping our customers happy keeps our contributors happy.
As far as the bigger pictures goes, I can´t discuss too much yet, but I think we're going to shake up the industry in the next 5 years as much as we have in the last 5.
We´ve always led the industry we helped create, and with Getty Image´s guidance and support, I think we´re going to be able to accelerate down that path. People will be very surprised at the directions we take, and then say "oh of course, that makes total sense."
When I asked Kelly what had been the most important thing Getty Images contributed to the success of iStockphoto - besides money - he responded: "Their controlled vocabulary system".
Kelly estimated also that for the fiscal year 2009 iStockphoto will reach $200 million in revenues, but did not disclose any numbers with respect to image downloads. - With this figure iStockphoto would be responsible for 46% - 54% of the total microstock market size.
The problem (ok, my problem) with calculating the revenues of iStockphoto since early 2007 - and subsequently the microstock market size - was and has always been in the past that this microstock agency with respect to its growth rates was more successful than conservative calculations would allow and was not hit by the economic downturn in the way some other agencies were apparently temporarily hit.
And while we were talking about Free Images during CEPIC in Dresden, he confirmed again: "40% of StockXpert´s traffic is coming from StockXchange. And that is a massive amount of traffic, with a very decent upsell, and a very strong validation of the free site model."