Stocksy United Returns Profit Back To Contributors

It’s been more than three years since Stocksy United opened its doors for business and in that time, the company has found great success, but something happened recently that shows how differently the company treats that success.

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In 2013, Stocksy was unveiled to the world as a new kind of stock agency.  A co-operative, based in Canada, whose goal was to create a business that would allow photographer members to enjoy “sustainable stock photography”.  In October, 2013, the co-founders said of the contributors, “We want them to make a real living, enjoy their work and have a voice in the direction of the co-op.”

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What happened recently directly affects the “making a real living” facet of the Stocksy contributor experience.  From the start, Stocksy has paid out a straight 50% royalty on regular license sales to contributors.  The company also pays a 75% royalty on extended license sales ( lowered from an initial 100% after a co-operative discussion and vote on the matter ).  The intent of the royalty system was to pay as much as possible, as quickly as possible to the contributors while still running an effective and competitive company.

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Additionally, as with other co-operative businesses, REI for example, a patronage dividend is part of the by-laws of the company.  A patronage dividend is a member distribution of surplus profit, profit the company does not need to retain to continue running an effective business.  After reviewing the budget for the upcoming 2016-17 year, CEO Brianna Wettlaufer and the Stocksy board were able to set an amount of $200,000 to return to the shareholders of the co-operative, which includes active contributor members.

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Series showcasing US currency.

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Says Wettlaufer, “We’re incredibly proud of Stocksy reaching a surplus profit earlier than originally anticipated. Stocksy is proving the co-op model can be just as financially successful and even competitive against traditional business models. We’re proud to live up to “walking the walk” of financial transparency and fair distribution of profits with our artists/co-owners; championing a model that benefits the majority and not just a select few.”.

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The patronage amount to be distributed to the photographers is divided based on a ratio of the photographer’s sales to the sales of the entire site.  So, the harder one works, and the more one earns, the bigger share of the “bonus” pot one can receive.  The exact amounts of the dividends will be revealed to the contributors in the coming weeks.

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In an age where all one reads is about how terrible companies treat those who enable their success, it’s a breath of pure oxygen to realize that there are stories of businesses where success is shared by all.

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(note: the author is a founding contributor at Stocksy United)

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