Klarna CEO Says He is Spending Less on Photographers Thanks to AI

A man with short blonde hair and a light beard stands confidently with arms crossed. He is wearing a blue button-up shirt over a white T-shirt, smiling softly, with a blurred, warmly lit background featuring colorful, neon-like light fixtures.
Sebastian Siemiatkowski

The CEO of Klarna, a “buy now, pay later” finance company, has boasted that his business will save $10 million this year at the expense of photographers and the photo industry thanks to generative AI.

Sebastian Siemiatkowski made the controversial comments last week in a since-deleted tweet after receiving considerable backlash for his “tone-deaf” remarks.

“We’re spending less on photographers, image banks, and marketing agencies,” Business Insider reports Siemiatkowski as writing. “Our in-house marketing team is HALF the size it was last year but is producing MORE!”

Siemiatkowski’s comments are backed up by a Klarna press release which says it has” decreased its spending on external marketing suppliers by 25%”.

It goes on to say that it has cut its image costs despite running more campaigns and creating more images which it puts down to AI image generator tools like Midjourney, OpenAI’s DALL-E, and Adobe’s Firefly.

In further comments on X (formerly Twitter), Siemiatkowski wondered “What will happen to the hugely talented marketing and creative industries?”

“There is of course still a need for super great, super creative massive campaigns,” he added. “But a lot of the daily work of creative businesses can be done far quicker, more easily, and at a fraction of the cost using AI.”

He namechecked Getty Images suggesting Klarna no longer buys from it and uses AI image generators to create images instead before tweaking them in Topaz Gigapixel and Photoroom.


Siemiatkowski’s comments have not been well received and was roundly criticized for apparently bragging about job losses.

“Celebrating cutting the human factor out of your company. Absolutely soulless behavior,” writes one X user.

“Dude if I was an employee of your company, I’d be in serious anxiety mode. My condolences to them,” adds another.

PetaPixel reached out to Klarna which said: “We think it is important to highlight the impact that AI is having and show real concrete examples and data to drive a proactive discussion.”

The spokesperson pointed to a previous tweet by Siemiatkowski where he says the company “believes society needs to consider the impact [of AI]. While it may be a positive impact for society as a whole, we need to consider the implications for the individuals affected.”

According to Business Insider, Klarna laid off around 700 workers, or about 10% of its workforce, in May 2022 before laying off a further 23% by the end of last year.

Klarna’s Chief Managing Officer David Sandström told The Wall Street Journal last week that the company needs to be “brutally efficient” to “become the most advanced marketing organization there is.”

“What we’re going to see is that we can achieve way more with lower costs, or if we decide to increase costs again, which I think we will do, we will be even more efficient,” he said.

“On a marketing level, we as an industry have to acknowledge the fact that whether we like it or not, whether creatives and crafters are worried or not about their future—which they actually shouldn’t be, in my opinion—we are in the midst of a step change for marketing and the marketing industry.”

Image credits: Courtesy of Klarna.