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Corbis acquires Beateworks, plans to boost b-to-b marketing

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New York—Corbis, an image licensing company founded by Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, announced at its annual meeting Tuesday that it has acquired Beateworks, a boutique image licensing company of high-end interior and home images. The company also said it plans to boost its b-to-b marketing efforts this year.

Gates, who spoke at the meeting, traced Corbis’ history back to its beginnings in 1989, when he envisioned people using licensed images in their homes. “The original thinking was people at home with a gallery of images,” he said.

He said that vision was not realized at the time, as the company grew more and more into a b-to-b marketer of images to advertisers and publishers, but that things have come full circle because of the mobile marketplace.

“We have an element of that original vision coming back as part of our business with the mobile phone market,” Gates said. As the demand for cellphone images, ringtones and the like become global, he said, Corbis will use existing images and create new images that fit the market.

“The mobile space will be a very dynamic space,” Gates said.

As it makes its forays into the consumer space, Corbis also plans to step up efforts to reach its core business market. As part of that effort, it recently hired SAP Senior VP David Bradley as CMO.

“We’ve been really good at creating a brand,” said Mark Sherman, business. “We’re now focused on getting tactical and educating our target market.” he said.

Corbis CEO Steve Davis said there is “more to come on how we’ll present our brand to the marketplace.” He did not provide specific details, although Gary Shenk, senior VP-images, said the company would use list buying, CRM and direct marketing to get its message to customers and prospects.

Financial details of the Beateworks deal were not released.

—Carol Krol

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