German technology and stock photography company EyeEm has reportedly filed for bankruptcy and is insolvent.
The company originally set itself apart from competitors through its innovative use of artificial intelligence. But Business Insider in Germany reports that it has filed for bankruptcy, the latest in a string of issues that have plagued the company for the last several years.
EyeEm attempted to restructure itself internally in 2020 which resulted in the company’s two founders leaving the business. Six months later, the remaining shareholders approved a sale to Swiss investment company New Value, which has been publicly traded as Talenthouse AG since 2021. Business Insider reports that Talenthouse paid $40 million for EyeEm, but only a few months later valued it at a single-digit million amount.
Talenthouse’s stock has been slowly falling for quite some time, and over the last six months, it has lost more than 88% of its value. At the time of publication, its stock was worth $0.0018 per share.
The bankruptcy filing might not come as a surprise to photographers who, since last year, have regularly reported issues with payments from EyeEm. Many photographers who contracted through EyeEm went unpaid for months, and last August Talenthouse blamed the situation on new accounting procedures and “global events.”
“First we would like to acknowledge that the Talenthouse AG group of companies has, in particular recently, been experiencing delays in issuing payments to some of our creatives and we are aware of social media reports indicating that Talenthouse is late in paying its creatives,” a spokesperson said at the time.
“Even just missing one Creative’s payment is unacceptable.”
There was considerable speculation that, in particular, EyeEm was not financially sound throughout 2022. Photographers had been reporting missed payments for months even last summer.
The collapse of the brand is a full 180 from what was once a thriving stock site, tech startup, and social media darling. The company was founded in 2011 — only a year after Instagram — and was often talked about in the same breath. Even Business Insider‘s report about the bankruptcy filing refers to the company as an Instagram competitor — a far less accurate description of the company in 2023 than it once was. Back in 2017, some photographers were still able to pull in north of $1,000 over four months by selling stock photos on EyeEm.
Since EyeEm is now part of the Talenthouse family of brands, it’s not clear what will happen next. That said, photographers still waiting for payments should set expectations that the money might not come for some time yet, if at all.