500px—the photo sharing community and licensing marketplace that once seemed like it would singlehandedly take down a floundering Flickr—has been acquired by Visual China Group (VCG), the world's third-largest visual content provider and a company that has been called the "Getty Images of China."

The news was released earlier today both via press release and on the 500px ISO blog (Full disclosure: I served as Editor in Chief at 500px from December, 2014 until April, 2016), where the move is being painted as an "investment in community growth" that will use VCG's significant distribution channels to try and expand 500px's worldwide community-based photo licensing services, among other things.

The relationship between the two companies actually began in 2015, when VCG led 500px's Series B of funding with a $13 million dollar investment and entered a joint venture to expand 500px's reach into China, launching 500px.me. While no financial details have been shared about the acquisition, Canadian start-up news website BetaKit is reporting that VCG paid just $17 million more to acquire 100% of 500px shares, a number 500px refused to either confirm or deny.

The homepage of 500px.me, the Chinese version of 500px.com

If you're still a regular 500px user, the natural question is "what happens now." And at least according to 500px, the news is good:

This means a lot of exciting things are on the way. By joining forces with VCG, we’ll be able to consistently deliver more innovative features to help you amplify your personal brand, connect with millions of like-minded creatives, and inspire you to improve your skill set as a photographer, as well as reward your talent and creativity with new incentives.

New products and services rolling out this year include:

  • Better statistics to improve and understand the reach and impact of your photos;
  • Top charts and badges that will help expand your exposure and reward your achievements;
  • Private messaging to support meaningful communication between members;
  • Sub-communities that allow photographers to connect around shared interests, styles, and locations.

500px also claims the acquisition means quicker expansion into other photo licensing markets, which would hopefully translate into more photo sales for marketplace users.

For more details on this acquisition, head over to the 500px ISO blog or read the full press release below.

Press Release

Visual China Group Acquires 500px

500px Surges Past 13 Million Photographers, Invests in Community Growth as it Joins Visual China Group

TORONTO & BEIJING | February 26, 2018 — 500px, one of the world’s leading online visual creative communities, announced Monday, February 26th that it has been acquired by Visual China Group (VCG), the world’s third-largest visual content provider and a longtime investor in 500px.

The acquisition underscores the significance of the growing photography community space, and solidifies 500px and VCG as world-class players in the photography industry. By joining forces with VCG, 500px is able to accelerate innovation, and further inspire, connect, and reward millions of like-minded creatives for their high-quality work.

“As one of the largest visual-content-licensing companies in the world, VCG has always been excited by the passion of the 500px community,” said Amy Jun Liang, Chief Executive Officer of VCG. “This acquisition is in line with VCG’s strategy to build a world-class photography ecosystem that delivers high-quality images. By integrating our learnings and resources across both 500px.com and 500px.me, we will further enrich our content creation, technology expertise, product offering, and continue to deliver the best service and experience to our millions of visual creatives.”

Post-acquisition, both companies will provide improved SaaS (Software as a Service) services relating to big data, AI, and blockchain technologies to visual creatives around the world. Additionally, VCG will leverage its strong client base and broad distribution channels to help accelerate the growth of 500px’s visual-content licensing and custom photography services.

Prior to the acquisition, 500px was venture-backed by VCG, Andreessen Horowitz, and ff Venture Capital. In 2015, VCG led 500px’s Series B round and both parties entered a joint venture to provide localized services to photographers in China by launching 500px.me.