Dear Splento Stakeholders,
1) We had a difficult 2020.
At our 2019 Board Meetings, we have discussed the probability of a 2020 recession numerous times, but no one could have predicted a worldwide lockdown. When governments around the world restricted their citizens from moving around, as the leading events photography and videography platform, we were the first ones to feel the economic shock of the 2020 lockdown, along with thousands of our clients in the hospitality and events industries.
2) Here’s why I remain optimistic.
Early on we realized that the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) side of our business would be in an almighty pickle for the foreseeable future, and we did three things to avert the worst outcome and ensure long-term success:
a) Cut costs – we slashed costs and salaries, and unfortunately had to let go of many employees. We will miss them – and wish them well finding new jobs and settling in.
b) Change tack – we immediately switched our focus to other services – namely: food, product and property photography and videography. After all, our motto has always been: “Splento – the only photo and video company you’ll ever need”.
c) Technological leapfrogging – we put aside short-term product updates and focused instead on our long-term product vision and roadmap. We have always known that by 2025 the world of visual content will be very different from what it is now.
But this year we decided to wholeheartedly follow Wayne Gretzky’s perhaps somewhat trite truism and started to enthusiastically “skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”
3) So where do we see the puck going?
By 2025 we envisage:
a) The vast majority of commercial photography and videography to be user-generated, not done by professional photographers. Some smartphone cameras already equal the latest Nikon and Canon DSLRs and it’s just a matter of time until mental models from photographers’ heads are transferred into AI-powered photography apps, and make anyone with a smartphone a professional photographer. A prime example of that would be food photography for food delivery companies, or product photography for e-commerce websites, property and real estate 360 tours, or attendee photography at events and endurance races.
b) Just like every home and coworking space now has a coffee machine or a microwave, in 2025 every home and office will have a little corner with professional lights and backgrounds, a microphone and a smartphone mount for recording product videos, vlogs & webinars.
We’ll be generating content every day from wherever we are, by repurposing discussions from our team meetings, talking about books and articles we’ve just read, summarizing recent zoom calls, publicly discussing challenges we are working on.
The end goal of all this content won’t be to become an influencer with millions of followers – instead, this content will be an extension of our LinkedIn profiles for potential employers and employees, colleagues, clients and partners to see and get to know us better and trust us.
c) With schools having acquainted themselves with the benefits of doing more things online in 2020, the door for new apps based around visualising schools’ daily activities will finally swing wide open. These Instagram-like private, personal, secure non-ad supported social networks and messaging services will change the way schools communicate with parents, bringing school-parent interaction into the 21st century and – as a side-effect – completely disrupting the $5bln per annum school photography industry.
4) Focus is about saying NO!
We clearly see these major technological and social changes happening and would love to go after all of them, but of course, chasing dozens of rabbits at the same time is a recipe for a very empty dinner table.
Instead, we will focus!
We will continue providing photography and videography services, but our product team’s time and effort will be invested in developing solutions that don’t require professional photographers to create professional-quality photos and videos.
The first product that we launched earlier this year and will actively promote in 2021 is a Food Photography App – a professional photographer in your pocket that helps food delivery companies and restaurants save up to 90% on food photography.
It’s just the first one in a list of many products, all of which aim to:
Bring inspiration and innovation to every photographer* in the world.
*If you have a smartphone, you are a photographer.
5) Last but not least.
Finally, I cannot promise you that 2021 will be easier, but I assure you that we will do our best to continue building a company that provides products and services that our customers love and are eager to buy. This will be achieved by taking great care of our employees and making sure that they are well rewarded. And if we do these two simple things right – the shareholder returns will follow.
In the spirit of a Zoom/Facetime year, no annual shareholder letter is complete without a video message. If you have a couple of minutes, please find a rather “bullish” recording from yours truly by following this link: https://www.splento.com/photos/qKe2K/i/video_2415
Thank you so much for all your help and support this year! Have a wonderful 2021!
With best holiday wishes,