Corbis Sold To Getty's China-Based Investment Group

By Donald R. Winslow

NEW YORK, NY (January 22, 2013) – Corbis CEO Gary Shenk told employees in a memo this morning that their image and licensing business has been sold to Unity Glory International Ltd., a Chinese-based investment group whose majority owner is Getty Images.

"During the 26 years since Bill Gates founded Interactive Home Systems, we’ve gone through many cycles of change," Shenk wrote to employees. "It’s very difficult to let go of businesses that are so much a part of our legacy and heritage, but this move maximizes shareholder value and allows us to focus on areas where we’ve seen great growth potential and success in recent years."

Shenk said that Unity Glory will own and manage the images and motion archives, names and trademarks associated with the Corbis Images, Corbis Motion and Veer licensing brands, and will be responsible for the licensing of all images and footage associated with those brands in China and around the world.

In a second memo to employees that followed the news, Shenk said, "Later today, Visual China Group (VCG) will be issuing additional communications about its intent to distribute the acquired Corbis assets through a partner in many markets around the world, while VCG will distribute the Corbis assets directly in China and SE Asia. As a result of this decision by VCG, there will be significant impacts to existing Corbis employees of the Iconic Image and Motion Licensing businesses in the months ahead."

Employees were told that individual meetings with Human Resources would begin "within the next few hours."

Getty Images and the Visual China Group have been partners for more than 10 years. And here is what Corbis told their clients.