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Interview With Bruce Livingstone – Founder and CEO of iStockphoto

By:     Topics: Entrepreneur Interviews

Bruce is the founder of iStockphoto, the world’s biggest FREE image and stock website on the Internet. Back in 2006 Bruce sold iStockphoto for $50 million to Getty Images and has since stayed on as the CEO and in this interview he shares his top tips and lets us know how he has built up iStockphoto to such a high level.

First off – can we have a little background information on you Bruce – Where you live? How old you are? (if you don’t mind answering) What motivates you? What inspires you?

I’m 38 years old, I live in Seattle, WA with my gorgeous fiancé and hooligan (15-month old) son, Sozé. He’s named after the character, Kaiser Sozé in the movie, “The Usual Suspects.” I’m motivated and inspired by communal subsistence, organizing and working for a common purpose.

1) Tell us about your main project, iStockphoto it has gone from strength to strength and has just been getting more popular everyday, what advice would you a young entrepreneur promoting their website? What has been the single biggest impact on your business with marketing?

Communicate openly, honestly and quickly with key stakeholders, media and with internal staff. Find your audience and make it meaningful. Constant innovation and progress is crucial. Find an evangelist. Get someone to help you promote your web site and get great press about it. Keyword optimization and buying adwords have had the most impact on iStock.

5) I have been using iStockphoto for a few years now and have noticed every time I come back that your service has improved, how do you make sure your business is continuously improving and offering your customers a better service?

Constant progress and innovation is imperative in a competitive market. We focus on operational excellence, but try and keep a balance with new features and innovation that keep people coming back.

6) Do you think that entrepreneurialism is something that is in your blood? Or is it something that can be learned?

I think being an entrepreneur is born out of necessity. If the need exists, then that’s what you will become.

7) What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Someone told me once to be more strategic. It’s a simple bit of advice, but very effective.

8) What advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Don’t be afraid to take risks and make mistakes. Borrow some money from Angels, family or friends at low interest rates – you’re going to need it.

9) How many hours do you work daily and what are your daily tasks for your sites?

Less now than I did in the previous 9 years. These days I spend most of my time in management and executive meetings. When I first started iStock I would work a 12-hour day minimum, but regularly worked 16-hour days.

10) If the Internet had not existed – what do you think you would be doing?

Playing in a band, making music and taking pictures.

11) What do you like best about the Internet?

Freedom, anonymity and access to a huge array of information.

12) What do you like least about the Internet?

Liars, crooks, thieves, dishonest people, squatters, spammers, phishers, anonymity, unintelligible arguing and copycats.


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  1. anne pajuluoma says:

    Dear Sir, I am a Finnish authoress and my spouse is painter. We are international artists,www.artstargate.com We need help for
    setting here Artist Housing for
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    residence+art-gallery+cafe+shop, etc. But no
    money to carry out this dream. Can anybody help us with financing? Charles Saatchi,buy
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    Sincerely yours, Anne Pajuluoma.

  2. Alena Markus says:

    Bruce Livingstone has so many great things to share and with his dedication to his work, he was able to achieve a lot of things which made him popular. I definitely know that he did his very best to come up with such a marvelous business and he never failed to recognize the people who supported him.

  3. So iStockphoto was once a free image and stock website? I presume once its popularity was built up, it was monetized? Any how, interesting interview and I sure do like iStockphoto too.

  4. Brian Weck says:

    iStockphoto is a decent stock media resource, especially for photos. Please keep in mind StockFuel as well for your stock media demands. Cheaper and easier to manage than most. Also, the payout is much higher than most microstock agencies.

  5. Keri M Featherstone says:

    I did not know that iStockphoto was once free? Wow that would have been nice. The images are very nice on there and are not very expensive so I do not mind purchasing an image from the site once in a while.

    I just wonder, with all of the free photo sites out there, how much longer the pricing model will stick around.

    I mean, for the most part, I will use a free site first. Only if I cannot find a free photo, then will I go buy one on iStockphoto.


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