Published May 14, 2013
At just 39 years old, he’s known as serial entrepreneur, landing spots on Crain’s “40 Under 40,” and Forbes “Most Powerful CEOs under 40” lists.
Now, Jon Oringer sits at the helm of Shutterstock (SSTK), the stock photo company he started ten years ago.
Creating a Better Product
“I started a couple companies before Shutterstock and each time I ran into the same problem. I was creating these websites, and e-mail promotions and different types of ad campaigns to sell my products, sell my services, and it was hard to find these images, “he said. “So I figured there had to be a better way. There had to be a better product.”
But there wasn’t.
So, in 2003, he took to the streets of New York City, armed with only his SLR camera. Oringer captured more than 100,000 images, and whittled it down to the best 30,000, which he used to kick start his brand new business.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
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Now, the site has more than 25 million photos from more than 40,000 contributors, and sells an average of more than two photos every second.
Last year, the company had, what many call a picture-perfect debut on the New York Stock Exchange and the only direction the stock seems to know is up, as shares have soared some 83% so far this year.
“A few years into this, I started to realize we were on to something,” Oringer said. “People were getting the product they finally needed at the price they needed it at. So after a few years, it started to make sense that this was a real company that was going to be around for awhile, and that’s why we decided to take it public.
Work Hard, Play Harder
Shutterstock is headquartered in the business-centric Financial District in Lower Manhattan. But that hasn’t stopped Oringer and his employees from working hard…and playing harder to generate new ideas. In fact, Nerf wars have been known to break out in the hallways from time to time as employees cut loose.
“Each year we have a Hackathon and basically, employees get together and have 24 hours to build something that would be beneficial for the company,” he said.
Up to this point, the annual event has given Shutterstock new and innovative ideas that might not have come up in a typical conference room roundtable brainstorm session.
“A lot of things have actually come out of (the Hackathon) that we then implemented into our normal products and services that our customers see every day,” Oringer said.
One such product is Spectrum, a tool that allows Shutterstock customers to search photos by color rather than other traditional search methods that use keywords and terms.
Though photography has now become Oringer’s profession, it doesn’t keep him from enjoying it as a hobby.
“Most of the time there’s not much of a difference (between work and play),” he said. “But every once in awhile, you have to take a break and go somewhere else for a week or so and kind of separate yourself from the business.”
Like the rest of us, he still likes to have a fun with his iPhone’s point-and-shoot camera function, using Instagram’s filters, and posting to Facebook (FB). But occasionally, he still likes to be artsy and creative just for the fun of it.
“I actually shoot film sometimes,” he said. “And I shoot with this Mamiya camera, which shoots these big negatives. I like things with a lot of detail, like industrial landscapes and stuff like that.”