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Business Operations Business Models

How Does Unsplash Make Money (Business and Revenue Model)

The Unsplash business model

Unsplash logo
Here’s what you should know:
  • What is Unsplash, and how does Unsplash work?
  • How does Unsplash make money?
  • Advertising Revenue
  • Revenue from high volume API usage
  • Unsplash profit and revenue
  • What is the Unsplash business and revenue model?
  • Unsplash funding, net worth, and valuation
  • Unsplash subsidiaries, acquisitions, and exits

How does Unsplash make money if the images are royalty free and how is it free to use? Well, here is a full, in depth, breakdown of their two (2) revenue streams and the different products and services they offer, as well as the Unsplash business and revenue model, how much Unsplash makes per year, and how Unsplash works.

What is Unsplash, and how does Unsplash work?

Unsplash is a website sharing stock photography under the Unsplash license which grants all users the right to use all images non-commercially and commercially for free with no need for licensing, royalties, or photo credit.

Founded in 2013 by Mikael Cho, Luke Chesser, and Stephanie Liverani, Unsplash went on to later get acquired by Getty Images on March 30, 2021, for an undisclosed amount.

Since that time, more than 4 billion Unsplash images have been downloaded off their platform since its founding back in 2013.

So, how does Unsplash work? To use Unsplash, users can either just visit their website or download their mobile app in the Apple App Store or Google Play store; and begin searching for what types of images they are looking for.

Once they find an image they like, they can simply download the image without the need of creating an account (optional).

Some of Unsplash’s competitors include Shutterstock, Pexels, Pixabay, Adobe, Getty Images, and other free stock photo websites.

Unsplash App in Apple App Store | Unsplash Business Model | How Does Unsplash Make Money? | How Does Unsplash Work?
Source: Apple App Store | Unsplash

How does Unsplash make money?

According to third-party data, the Unsplash website receives more than 30+ million monthly visitors browsing from their more than 4 million stock images on their platform.

So how does Unsplash make money off of all this traffic and images?

Below is a breakdown of how much money Unsplash makes and its revenue model. Including all revenue streams and how much they charge for their services.

Here are the 2 ways of how Unsplash makes money in 2022

Unsplash has a revenue model that makes money in two (2) ways; advertising revenue and charging developers for API usage.

#1. Advertising Revenue

Unsplash makes most of its money through the ad revenue it generates from its advertisers on the platform.

Some of those partnering advertisers include brands like Microsoft, Google, Spotify, Square, and more.

As noted above, the Unsplash website receives more than 30+ million monthly visitors. Which results in 100s of millions of impressions on their ads per month, meaning more ad dollars for Unsplash.

Note: All Unsplash images are royalty free; and they or their contributors do not collect royalty or licensing fees on any of the images.

#2. Revenue from high volume API usage

Unsplash also makes some money from their API they let developers use to gain access to the 4+ million royalty free images on their platform.

How does Unsplash make money from their API if they say it’s free to use? While Unsplash’s API is free to use, Unsplash makes a note in their API terms and conditions section that they may decide to charge a technology fee to certain businesses.

Including businesses who “heavily interact with the API or that Unsplash anticipates [they] will heavily interact with the API”. In that case, Unsplash will reach out to said business to negotiate a fee.

According to Unsplash, there are more than 18,500 apps that are powered by the Unsplash API. These include companies like Medium.com, Squarespace, Dropbox, BuzzFeed, Mailchimp, and many more. Although it’s unclear which of these companies Unsplash charges if any at all.

Unsplash App in Apple App Store | Unsplash Business Model | How Does Unsplash Make Money? | How Does Unsplash Work?
Source: Unsplash

Note: There are more than 1.4 billion requests per month on Unsplash’s API.

Unsplash profit and revenue

Unsplash has not released any official reports in regards to company earnings.

Note: Because Unsplash, Inc. is a privately held company, they are not required to make their annual reporting, such as Form 10-K’s, pubic.

What is the Unsplash business and revenue model?

Unsplash makes money through a few revenue models that they combine within their company, they are:

  • Advertising business model
  • Fee for service (FFS) business model
  • B2B2C (partnerships) business model

Unsplash funding, net worth, and valuation

According to Unsplash’s Crunchbase profile, Unsplash has raised $31.3 million over 4 rounds.

On March 30, 2021, Unsplash was acquired by Getty Images for an undisclosed amount.

Unsplash subsidiaries, acquisitions, and exits

To date, Unsplash, Inc. has not made any acquisitions, investments, or exits.