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German Instagram rival EyeEm seeks to expand photo marketplace

[BERLIN] EyeEm Mobile GmbH, the German startup behind an app that works like a cross between Instagram and a photo agency, is gearing up to roll out its image-selling marketplace around the world.

EyeEm plans to introduce its library of 50 million photos to countries including the UK, Germany, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Turkey and Brazil in the next 12 months, Chief Executive Officer Florian Meissner said in an interview. It may look for local partners in some markets, he said.

EyeEm has attracted 13 million users for its app, which allows photographers to take, edit and share their work and in a second step sell it to companies. The app is based on an algorithm that can identify the contents of a picture and - crucially - its quality, Meissner said.

"You can give us 100 million images and we can tell you: There's a skateboard in 1,000 of them, and among those, 100 are good enough to be used commercially," Mr Meissner said in the company's sunlit loft office in Berlin this week. He declined to give sales figures.

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EyeEm has sold photographs through Seattle-based Getty Images to clients in 40 countries and has partnered with companies including Uber Technologies Inc. and Daimler AG's Mercedes Benz on photo assignments taken up for cash by EyeEm users. Single images can sell for hundreds of dollars - revenue that EyeEm splits 50-50 with the photographer, Meissner said.

"It's a very scalable business model," he said.

Founded in 2011, the company employs 73 people in Berlin and San Francisco, and may top 100 workers before year-end, Meissner said. EyeEm received US$18 million in financing from investors including PayPal Inc co-founder Peter Thiel this year.


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