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iStockphoto founder, CEO leaves Getty

Bruce Livingstone has stepped down from the microstock image-licensing business he founded. COO Kelly Thompson is taking over the Getty division.

Bruce Livingstone, founder and leader of microstock pioneer iStockphoto, is leaving the company he sold to Getty Images three years ago.

iStockphoto founder and former CEO Bruce Livingstone
iStockphoto founder and former CEO Bruce Livingstone Stephen Shankland/CNET

Livingstone, who launched the low-cost photo-licensing company nine years ago, said he's leaving of his own volition, according to a forum posting from iStock COO Kelly Thompson, who is taking over Livingstone's duties.

"This is my last communication as CEO of iStockphoto and SVP Consumer at Getty Images. It's been a difficult decision, but it's the right moment to move on," Livingstone said. "I need more time with my family, and time to figure out what I'm going to do next. Anybody who knows me, knows I'm a bit of a workaholic. So I'm finally going to make some time for myself and the people in my life."

Thompson will lead iStockphoto and report directly to Getty CEO Jonathan Klein, the company said. iStockphoto got its start licensing royalty-free images for relatively low prices, and over the years expanded into video, Flash animations, illustrations, and, most recently, audio.

Livingstone's departure was unrelated to 110 layoffs at Getty Images reported last week by Photo District News, the company said.

"Bruce's departure was a personal decision and has been planned for some time, with a potential April 1 announcement date, which is within the wry character of Bruce," Thompson said in a statement to CNET News. "But due to the inherent difficulty in keeping something like this contained, we felt it prudent to move the announcement up."

Livingstone said he'll continue with some involvement at iStockphoto. "Don't think for a minute that I'm going away, though. I'm still a photographer after all, and I'll finally have time to take pictures now," he said in the forum posting.