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Photography Site Unsplash Raises $7,25 With OST as Lead Investor

Unsplash, a popular, easy to use destination for free, high-quality photos has announced a funding round. The outlook is interesting for anyone looking into the future of photos and blockchain.

If you followed news about the use of blockchain to handle creative content in the past months, you know that there is quite some activity. For example,  Kodak announced Kodak.One, a platform to handle rights for photographers.


A fresh approach for photos

A recent announcement from Unplash, published on February 15, 2018, is another step. Potentially a step that leads even further into the future of photo rights.

Why? So far announcements in the photo space all sounded a bit similar: To create the one platform where photographers could ensure that their photos are actually paid for, in some way, usually with an intention to use an existing or newly minted cryptocurrency.

One immediate problem with those announcements is that it is unlikely that there will be only one platform for such rights management/payment. Without doing injustice to any project: It simply seems unlikely that one platform will grow to a new monopoly in a market for creative content that is only forming now.


Unsplash has some benefits others still need to build: Great content, fast-growing usage.

  • Firstly, the site is simply great if you are a creator and need photos. For a number of reasons: Very easy to use (in fact we used the offerings to create the Bloomen site and even reached out to the founders months ago because of that experience). When downloading a photo you are asked to provide a link back to the source, but even that is not mandatory. Through this the site immediately creates some loyalty, making users want to link back as a “Thank you” to the site.
  • Secondly, Unsplash has wide support from photographers who currently use the free usage model to generate awareness.
  • Thirdly, the photos already available on Unsplash are great – overcoming the much maligned “stock photo look & feel” of competing offerings.
  • Finally, at least judging by the blog posts published by Mikael Cho and now-investor Jason Goldberg, the platform they aim to build goes beyond “get paid in cryptocurrency”-approach.

“It won’t be a model where photos are going to be paid for with cryptocurrency”

Quote from the post by Cho:

“The funds being invested today will be going toward defining a new economic model around photography. It won’t be a model where photos are going to be paid for with cryptocurrency.”

“It will be a model that leverages the unprecedented distribution Unsplash photos gain to bring as many opportunities to contributors as possible while maintaining the open, free-to-use principles of the community. We’re looking to design a model that works equally well for both photographers and creators. We’ll also be working on some new products and tools that will make creation easier, faster, and fun.”

Setting images free

Investor Jason Goldberg added his view in a blog post, too: “By setting images free, Unsplash has created exponentially more value for more photographers vs. pay-per-use stock photography marketplaces. Unsplash helps photographers get noticed, distribute their works, build their reputations, grow their influence, and drive their businesses.”

Goldberg, too, clearly is a fan of Unsplash: “9 months ago a prominent crypto investor asked me to name one company that I would most want to partner with to showcase our vision for OST as the enabler of mainstream adoption of blockchain technology. Without hesitation, I said, “Unsplash” — the opportunity to utilize blockchain technology to further the Unsplash mission and democratize photography is clear, attainable, of massive scale, and immediately actionable.”

Here are the known facts regarding the funding:

  • Unsplash will work with Simple Token, (OST), a company founded by Jason Goldberg. The platform is compared to financial service site Stripe, “but instead of making it simple to set up a way to accept normal money in your digital product, OST makes it simple to create an economic system based on the blockchain in a digital product.”
  • Other investors participating are Accomplice, Betaworks, Mark Bonchek, Real Ventures, Roger Dickey (Founder/CEO of Gigster), Clark Valberg (Founder/CEO of InVision), and Rahul Vohra (Founder/CEO of Superhuman).
  • Unsplash is highly popular, both for photographers and users/creators: Launched in 2013 the site reports high growth in usage for the past years, which is no surprise. By now 400.000 photos available via the site have been downloaded 310 million times. The database is available via the website and at the same time integrated into other platforms like Medium, Trello and 1.200 more.

According to Cho Unsplash has seen high growth of usage: “This past year, we watched Unsplash double nearly every 3 months. Unsplash has become a growth engine for creativity but we also know it needs to become an economic one too.”

Some more background about Unsplash needed? How they started is described in another, earlier post from Mikael Cho from 2017: “Hello, Unplash, Inc.”


Mikael Cho: “We just raised $7.25 for Unsplash to build a new economy around photography”, Medium.com (February 15, 2018). Retrieved: Feb. 19, 2018

Jason Goldberg: “OST Invests in Unsplash — to Create the new Currency for Photography — $OST @Unsplash” (Feb. 15, 2018). Retrieved: Feb. 19, 2018


Simple Token