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Getty Images set to go public Monday after completing SPAC merger – GeekWire

Getty Images CEO Craig Peters (Getty Images Photo)

Seattle-based Getty Images will once again be a public company.

The 27-year-old digital media provider announced Friday that it completed a merger with CC Neuberger Principal Holdings, a publicly-traded special-purpose acquisition company, and will begin trading on Monday.

“We’ve got a lot of staff that have been part of this story and part of this business for a long time,” said CEO Craig Peters in an interview with GeekWire. “[Going public] gives us the ability to equitize that.”

Getty first announced its plan to go public in December, with the company valued at $4.8 billion at the time.

Getty received a total of $875 million in committed capital, a significant drop from the the $1.3 billion it expected to receive. Part of the proceeds from the deal will go towards paying down existing debt, the company said.

The move to go public comes at a time when tech stocks have seen significant declines, while investor sentiment towards SPACs has deteriorated.

There have been 30 companies so far this year that scrapped their plans to merge with a SPAC, citing unfavorable market conditions. And the four Seattle companies that merged with a SPAC in 2021 all declined by more than 50% from previous market value highs. 

Peters, who joined Getty in 2007 and became CEO in 2019, said the company is insulated from this trend because of its fundamentals. Unlike most SPAC mergers, he said, the company has “real revenues, real customers and real profits.” He added that its investors are committed to be long-term shareholders, allowing it to retain the capital it raised on its balance sheets.

Neuberger shares dropped 13% to $8.45 on Wednesday on the news that shareholders approved the SPAC merger with Getty. The stock rallied back on Friday, closing at $9.35 a share.

Starting Monday, the stock will trade under the ticker symbol “GETY” on the New York Stock Exchange.

An investor relations presentation from March shows that Getty’s revenue declined to $814 million in 2020, from $846 million in 2019, and $868 million in 2018. However, its revenue rose by more than $100 million in 2021, up about 14% year-over-year.

Peters says the decline in 2019 figures was a result of the company converting to a subscription-based model, while also shutting down certain businesses within the company. He said the pandemic affected declining revenue in 2020 as many entertainment and sporting events were canceled.

The company said its recent revenue growth is the result of onboarding new customers, its growing library of video content, and other factors.

Getty also includes the iStock and Unsplash photography marketplaces.

It has several competitors, including Shutterstock, which went public in 2012. Shares of Shutterstock reached record highs late last year but have fallen nearly 50% in 2022.

Getty was first taken private in 2008 after being acquired by San Francisco-based private equity firm Hellman & Friedman for $2.4 billion. It then got acquired by The Carlyle Group, another private equity firm, in 2012 for $3.3 billion.

Founded in London in 1995, Getty moved its headquarters to Seattle after it merged with Seattle-based stock photo provider PhotoDisc in 1997. The company reached a deal in 2016 to manage the archive of Corbis Images, its longtime Seattle-based rival, when Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates sold Corbis to Visual China Group.

Getty has more than 300 employees in the Seattle area, out of more than 1,600 globally.

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