Tech Industry

Corbis aims at ad clients with Sharpshooters buy

The digital image company says it is acquiring the stock photography agency, firing the latest shot in the acquisition wars that have marked the digital image market.

Digital image company Corbis said today that it is acquiring stock photography agency Sharpshooters, firing the latest shot in the acquisition wars that have marked the digital image market.

Corbis, owned by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, and Getty Images, owned by Getty Oil heir Mark Getty, have been on buying sprees for more than a year as each company attempts to amass more online photographic and video holdings than its rival. Analysts estimate the digital image market to be worth $2 billion.

So far, Getty appears to have a commanding lead, with more than 70 million images. But Corbis, which boasts 65 million images, has come on strong in the past six months, completing a series of acquisitions including Stock Market Photo Agency and Saba Press Photos in March.

Getty recently has branched into music licensing; it is also creating a business-to-business portal for downloading digital images.

Miami-based Sharpshooters caters mostly to advertisers but also offers sports, business and lifestyle images. The company last year opened a moving footage unit.

"We are rapidly expanding our commercial offering to our advertising and graphic design clients," Corbis chief executive Steve Davis said in a statement.

Corbis will add Sharpshooters images to its Web site in coming months. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.