Microstock’s stock is rising: $265 million for Shutterstock, Fotolia

Six years after Getty bought iStockPhoto for $50 million, it looks like the microstock photography sector, in which pro-amateur photographers sell their pictures on commission through online marketplaces, is getting a second exposure.

  • Fotolia is taking a $150 million investment from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
  • That announcement Wednesday appears prompted by rival Shutterstock having lodged an IPO filing to raise $115 million on Monday.
Each service has a long history and is New York-based. But Fotolia CEO and co-founder Oleg Tscheltzoff thinks his site is still young: “After only seven years, this investment is a testament to our rapid progress as a company”, he said in an announcement (emphasis mine).

Fotolia previously took between $50 and $100 million from TA Associates, TechCrunch reported in 2009. The FT reports KKR’s investment buys it half of the firm.

This is a market that will consolidate,” KKR’s European media investment head Philipp Freise tells the paper, adding KKR may use Fotalia as a vehicle for further acquisition.

Shutterstock, in its IPO filing, cites BCC Research as projecting the stock photography market to be worth $5.1 billion by 2013.

It made a $21.8 million profit on $120.2 million revenue from more than 550,000 active customers – that user count is 71 percent up from 2010, and Shutterstock served 58 million paid downloads.

Founded by French-born Russian Tscheltzoff, Fotolia, with a largely European executive team, is especially strong in Europe, where it last year acquired France-based Wilogo, a microstock upload sales site for logo designers.

Disclosure: paidContent uses images from Shutterstock, including the one on this page, taken by Douglas Freer.