Who Wants to Be the Getty Images of the Instagram Generation

A crowdsourced, stock-image platform launched today, aiming to connect advertisers and content marketers. Twenty20, a Marina del Rey, Calif.-based provider, wants to become the "Getty Images of the Instagram generation."

Backed by an $8 million funding round led by Canaan Partners, the company launches out of beta today with a "mobile-oriented, crowdsourced approach to stock imagery." 

"We launched Twenty20 in 2013 with the goal of connecting digital creatives in search of authentic, real-world imagery for their marketing and advertising campaigns with content from mobile photographers all over the world," Matt Munson, founder and CEO of Twenty20, told CMSWire.

"Mobile has changed the way we see the world, and creatives are looking for content that reflects this to their consumers. Original, user-generated content allows brands to better engage and connect with their audiences, and Twenty20 offers the largest catalog of that content."

Why Jump In?

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We asked Munson about the standout qualities of his company's new offering. After all, this is a world that includes competitors like Getty and Shutterstock -- even Flickr.

"There is definitely a movement for mobile usable content, but we are far and away the largest catalog of crowdsourced imagery of any site out there," Munson said.

"We currently have over 45 million images from over 250,000 photographers around the world on our site -- 50 percent larger than Shutterstock’s catalog. We also maintain an extremely stringent legal process, which is comparable to the older players in the stock photo space like Shutterstock and Getty. Our breadth of crowdsourced content and robust legal system set us apart from companies that share a similar vision."

Shutterstock challenged Munson's claim that Twenty20 is 50 percent larger. Communications manager Rachel Ceccarelli told CMSWire that Shuttertock currently has more than 49 million royalty-free stock images and more than 2,500,000 royalty-free video clips. "Given Twenty20 states they have 45 million images, it is not 50 percent larger than ours," she said.

In addition, there seem to be far fewer than 45 million images currently available on the Twenty20 website, although the ones there are generally impressive.

Twenty20 is rolling out the technology through the work of its 20 staffers, which includes "creative minds handling site curation, developers optimizing photo quality and making sure our platforms run smoothly, and attorneys handling the legality behind our user-generated content."

Who Benefits?

What business problem is this solving and for whom? Munson told us consumers have become sensitive about brands putting out content that lacks authenticity.

"For that reason, companies are looking for real-world image content that feels more fresh and authentic than dated, stage stock imagery," he said. "Our platform allows brands to source this content from mobile photographers all over the world."


Initially, the company was created around the concept of printing Instagram photos on canvas. But Munson and Co. discovered a much larger market for photographers, "and thus pivoted to become Twenty20."

"We decided to focus solely on the Twenty20 platform," the CEO said, "and stopped the canvas printing business -- though this was a tough decision. Our team is aligned on the importance of simplicity of product, and we wanted to focus on making Twenty20 the world’s best image catalog."

The announcement today marks the official launch of Twenty20's licensing platform for brands. Marketers can purchase legal, user-generated content immediately. 

The platform is offered as a subscription or a-la carte option.

One-off images cost between $10 to $50 based on the size of the images, and subscriptions start at $89 per month. 


Title image by maxturnr/Twenty20. Secondary images by davidbuck/Twenty20 and juddjonas/Twenty20.