This is certainly the case with Bill Gates’s privately held company Corbis Corporation. The company’s PR guys out there have certainly taken them far too serious and have last week threatened a tiny Norwegian micro stock photography agency called Crestock with legal action over an apparent April Fools joke made by the company in a recent press release.
Ok, what’s the story all about after all. Lets put it that way: Crestock has put up a press release announcing the acquisition of Corbis in a deal valued over $600M rebranding their logo and giving Corbis independency after the deal closes. Here is the original press release as it initially appeared on Web. Today there is clarification on the web site
Bill Gates’ Corbis Corporation is one the worlds largest stock photography sites and being acquired by a small player in the sector was kind of distasteful for them to see and they have reacted almost immediately by threatening the tiny company with legal actions.
We think Corbis has gone too far and the “megalomanic” press release, as the Norway company describes it, is more suitable as label for the Corbis’s behavior.
On the other side there is something that bothers in the press release on first reading – its seriousness and a few high-profile investors and institutions claimed to have been involved into the acquisition. Compared to Corbis with its $250M revenues per year Crestock appears quite a start up like company and perhaps no one would have taken their announcement for real if it was not the claim there are some large-scale and high-profile organizations and investors being involved in to the foolish press release such as “Scandinavian group of investors”, the Norwegian government fund organization: Innovation Norway and the European Union’s Media II Programme, whose purpose is to encourage the development and distribution of European audiovisual works.
We think this is what made the press release read and look beyond the common April Fools jokes and have Corbis’s lawyers and PR guys pissed off.
Over the past several years corporate April fools jokes became a trend among rivals. Around April 1 every year there are thousands of April fools press releases and announcements about potential deals, acquisitions and beyond, but perhaps none is ending up in the court, if any.
Not long after the press release was posted, Corbis Corporation was notified about the story. Dan Perlet, Director of Communications, promptly went to action, emailing Crestock Public Relations representatives:
“On behalf of Corbis Corporation, I strongly suggest that you remove the April Fools press release on your website that suggests Crestock has purchased Corbis. We ask that this release be removed from your website immediately, or we may be forced to consider legal action.”
“We in no way intended to mislead or otherwise conduct ourselves in an illegal or inappropriate manner,” Crestock CEO, Geir Are Jensen stated in a statement early today.
“Receiving emails like this spices things up in your everyday work routine” Jensen, Crestock CEO continued, “Of course we didn’t remove the obvious April Fools joke, but in case the second richest man in the world comes after us with his pack of lawyers after him. We’ll have to set aside a monthly sum to cover the expenses.”
More about Creystock
Crestock`s aim is to play a leading role in the micropayment stock photo business.
The photography trade is undergoing a revolution as digital cameras and internet distribution lower the prices to a minimum. There are a few succesful companies in this particular sector of the photo business. Our goal is to be among the most sucessful – as soon as possible. And then move further.
– A high level of image quality – in fact the highest in the business
– An inspiring, fast and utterly relevant search experience for buyers
– A strong and vibrant community, based on forums and the unique and personal member console
– A friendly and warm service, even though we are the northernmost photo bureau we know of
More about Corbis
Corbis is a creative resource for advertising, marketing and media professionals worldwide, helping to bring creative work to life with the highest quality photography, footage and rights services. Corbis offers a preeminent collection of more than 100 million creative, entertainment and historic images, a comprehensive footage library, the world’s deepest rights and clearances expertise and an award-winning media management solution, as well as empowering SnapVillage, an innovative microstock web site. Based in Seattle, Corbis serves more than 50 countries worldwide. Corbis is privately held by its Chairman Bill Gates, who founded the company in 1989.
Story picked from EPR Network