Visual China Group acquires 500px for US $170M

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By Ted Liu

Visual China Group (VCG) (SZSE: 000681) through its wholly-owned subsidiary, VCG Hong Kong LTD, has acquired 100% of 500px Inc. shares for US $170 million.

Visual China Group led 500px’ US $13 million Series B round in 2015 and owned 15.5% of 500px. 500px had raised US $23 million from VCG, Andreessen Horowitz Fund and others (login to see backer list and ownership)

Fortis Advisors LLC acted as financial advisor to 500px.

[mepr-active rule=”374″ ifallowed=”hide”]##Subscribe today to see our research on this and all other subscriber ONLY items##[/mepr-active][mepr-active rule=”374″]500px is owned 20.4% by common equity holders which include Oleg Gutsol (89.4%), Rugged Ventures, LLC, Volodymyr Dryzhepolov, Diana Tula, Roxy Keshavarznia; 57.3% by preferred equity holders which include VCG (largest), Andreessen Horowitz Fund III, L.P., FF Silver Venture Capital Fund, L.P., AH Parallel Fund III, L.P., Fame Mount Limited, Harrison Metal Capital III, L.P., High Line Venture Partners LP, NC2 Media LLC, ff Sapphire (IV) Venture Capital Fund, LP, Suntech Limited, Deep Creek Capital Ventures LLC, CAA Ventures I, LP, Rugged SPV, LLC, Mountain Brook Holdings, LLC, Dustin Plett, Rugged Ventures, LLC; and 22.3% by optionholders.[/mepr-active]

Founded in 2000, Visual China Group is a leading visual communications and new media business in China and among the largest image licensing companies in the world. The Group has over 600 employees, with subsidiaries in major cities in Greater China including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

photo credit: 500px

News Release

Visual China Group Acquires 500px

BEIJING, Feb. 26, 2018 /CNW/ — Visual China Group (VCG) announced on Monday, February 26th that it has acquired 100% of 500PX, INC. (500px) shares through its wholly-owned subsidiary, VCG Hong Kong LTD.

500px is one of the leading online visual creative communities in the world, founded in 2009 and based in Toronto, Canada. With more than 13 million professional and hobbyist photographers from over 195 countries and regions, the 500px community has produced over 120 million unique images diversity and creative trend. 500px is renowned globally for its community, image licensing, and custom photography.

In July 2015, VCG participated in 500px’s global expansion as a strategic investor, signing on as the exclusive distributor of 500px’s visual content in Greater China. In November 2015, VCG and 500px jointly-launched, a localized community for professional and hobbyist photographers in China. The iOS and Android mobile apps were successfully launched in February 2016. In the past two years, both teams have worked in close collaboration on product, technology, marketing, and business development. Today, photographers, visual contents, and social interactions are accessible in both communities for a seamless user experience, and multiple collaborative projects have been successfully executed to serve brand customers around the world.

This acquisition is another key milestone in VCG’s continued strategic development in the global imagery industry, and further investment in an already-successful partnership. VCG will strengthen its position by leveraging 500px’s premium content and world-class photographer network, while 500px will improve its service to both its community members and international brand enterprises by leveraging VCG’s years of online operational experience, technology expertise, client resources, and deep global partnerships.

Amy Jun Liang, Chief Executive Officer of VCG said: “We are excited that 500px, a world-renowned photography community, will become part of the VCG family. This is the next important move in VCG’s globalization strategy, following the acquisition of Corbis in 2016. Through the acquisition of 500px, VCG will be able to expand its role in the global content ecosystem. By combining resources in content creation, distribution channels, product and technology across the two parties, VCG will be even better equipped to produce and distribute professionally-generated content (PGC) to meet customer’s needs.”

Jeff Jordan, partner of Andreessen Horowitz, a well-known venture capital firm and one of the initial 500px investors, said: “I’m thrilled that 500px is officially joining Visual China Group, which is among the top players in the global imagery industry. The two companies are a great fit, combining VCG’s deep experience in the imagery industry with 500px’s global photographer network. I’m confident VCG and 500px will continue to drive product innovation and apply big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain technology to better serve our community members and enterprise customers around the world.”

After the acquisition, both companies will provide more professional SaaS (Software as a Service) services to visual creatives around the world, including those relating to big data, AI, and trusted timestamping technologies. Both VCG and 500px will continue to develop digital copyright services, including registration, transaction, traceability, protection, and artistic content collection. Furthermore, VCG will leverage its strengths in the imagery industry and professional communities to accelerate the growth of 500px’s community, visual content licensing and custom photography services.

About Visual China Group

Visual China Group, a public company in China (stock code 000681), is among the top image licensing companies in the world. It is the go-to choice for creative and media professionals in China, and an award-winning leader in copyright protection. Beginning with its strategic investment in 500px in 2014 and the acquisition of Corbis in 2016, VCG, together with its global strategic partner, aims to develop a global photography ecosystem focusing on visual content creation and monetization to better serve photographers, as well as creative and media professionals around the world.

About 500px

500px is one of the leading online visual creative communities in the world, founded in 2009 and based in Canada. With professional and hobbyist photographers around the world, the 500px community has produced unique images diversity and creative trend. 500px is renowned globally for its community, image licensing, and custom photography. Recently, 500px was named one of the 10 best apps for independent travelers by The Guardian, and recognized as one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50. 500px has worked with world-class global brands like Google, Sony, Airbnb and Lonely Planet.