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The 7 reasons behind acquisitions in the photo & video industry

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The question often comes up at our Visual 1st conference and in our strategic client workshops: What criteria to apply when selecting potential targets for strategic acquisition? And, from the standpoint of startups seeking an exit, how to choose suitable potential acquirers?

Examining recent trends can provide helpful insights on these vital issues, I’m happy to share a brushstroke analysis of 41 recent acquisitions in the photo & video space aimed at discerning the most compelling rationale behind each of these acquisitions.

Seven primary “reasons to acquire” stand out from this process.

They are:

1. Economies of Scale
2. Vertical Integration
3. Market Share Gains
4. Geographical Diversification
5. Product Diversification
6. Financing Opportunities
7. Acquisition of Technology or Talent

Note that I have only assigned one reason– the assumed most important – behind each acquisition. In reality, there are usually multiple reasons behind an acquisition. For instance, a company might acquire a supplier (vertical integration) with a first-class engineering team with skills that are also valuable to the acquiring company (acquisition of technology or talent).

1. Economies of Scale

Larger companies benefit from cost savings compared to smaller entities.


A wall decor producer adding photo print product partners:

Sensaria acquires Canvaspop, Bay Photo, and Graphik Dimensions


2. Vertical Integration

Vertically integrated companies benefit from cost savings and increased control


Social media network adding AR display hardware: Snap acquires WaveOptics

Personalized print provider adding DIY design tools and photo marketplace: Vistaprint acquires Crello, 99designs, and Depositphotos.

Pro-photo solutions provider adding photo print products: Foreground acquires

Social media video network adding VR hardware: Bytedance/TikTok acquires Pico Interactive.

Vertical integration: Vistaprint acquired Crello, 99designs, and Depositphotos.

3. Market Share Gains

Companies enjoy marketing and sales advantages by achieving leadership in their market.


Canadian school photography market: Edge Imaging acquires Lasting Images Photography and Johnson Photography

Stock photography market: Getty acquires Unsplash

4. Geographical Diversification

Companies benefit from being able to expand into other geographies:


Expanding in Europe: Holland-based Albelli acquires France-based Monalbumphoto SAS

Expanding in Europe: UK-based Photobox/Moonpig acquires Holland-based Greetz

Expanding in Europe: Germany-based CEWE acquires France-based Cheerz

Merging in Europe: Holland-based Albelli merges with UK-based Photobox

Busy time for Photobox with one acquisition and one merger


5. Product Diversification

Companies enjoy higher revenues and/or reduced risk when gaining the ability to sell new products to existing or new customers.


General software vendor adding video creation functionality: Microsoft acquires Clipchamp.

Imaging app and community vendor adding video AI expertise: PicsArt acquires DeepCraft.

Publisher adding micro-targeted video streaming: Axel Springer acquires Framen.

Stock content platform adding design creation tools: Shutterstock acquires PicMonkey.

Photo print product provider adding user-customized on-demand products: PlanetArt acquires CafePress.

General hardware and software company adding VR broadcasting: Apple acquires NextVR

Imaging and marketing software company adding video collaboration: Adobe acquires

Photo print product provider adding personalized children’s book creation: PlanetArt acquires
I See Me!

Volume photography solution provider adding photo engagement tools: ASG acquires Capturelife.

Photo print product provider adding textiles and wallpaper marketplace: Shutterfly acquires Spoonflower.

Photo print product provider adding personalized gifting: Smartphoto acquires Frucon².

Social media network adding virtual e-commerce enabler: Snap acquires Fit Analytics.

Photo editing and community app adding AI-powered video editing: VSCO acquires Trash

VSCO’s acquisition of Trash provides product diversification.


6. Financing Opportunities

Companies can tap into additional financing resources.


Going public through a reversed merger: Triller merges with Seachange.


7. Acquisition of Technology or Talent

Companies boost existing products or services by acquiring new technology and/or talent.


Stock content platform boosting AI functionality: Shutterstock acquires Pattern89, Datasine, and Shotzr.

Social media network boosting video creation: Reddit acquires Dubsmash

Social media network boosting synthetic data creation to train ML: Meta acquires AI. Reverie

Visual bookmarking platform boosting video creation: Pinterest acquires VOCHI

Car technology platform boosting 3D imaging: Cox Automotive acquires Fyusion

DIY design platform boosting photo & video editing: Canva acquires Kaleido

Video streaming and creation platform boosting video creation and video shopping: Vimeoacquires Wibbitz and Wirewax

Pro-photo solutions provider boosting website creation: Zenfolio acquires Format

Note that, while I’ve only pointed out one primary rationale for each acquisition (the one that seemed most compelling in the particular case), in reality, there are usually multiple reasons behind an acquisition. For instance, a company might acquire a supplier (vertical integration) with a first-class engineering team with skills that are also valuable to the acquiring company (acquisition of technology or talent).


Main image by doidam10

Author: Hans Hartman

Hans Hartman is president of Suite 48 Analytics, the leading research and analysis firm for the mobile photography market and organizer of Mobile Visual 1st, a yearly industry conference about mobile photography.

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