iStockPhoto and ride the Great Inflection

Today in the New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman penned an article titled The Do-It-Yourself Economy and not one, but two Canadian success stories are mentioned.

Friedman’s op-ed piece is about how the U.S. economy is being hit by two tsunamis at once: The Great Recession and the Great Inflection. The Great Inflection is the “mass diffusion of low-cost, high-powered innovation technologies — from hand-held computers to websites that offer any imaginable service — plus cheap connectivity”. The Great Recession you know.

Of course the good news is that the Great Recession is forcing companies to take advantage of the Great Inflection faster than ever, making them more innovative. Friedman tells the story of a childhood friend, Ken Greer, who owns a marketing agency in Minneapolis.

While the Great Recession has forced Greer to radically downsize, the Great Inflection has made him radically more productive.  In Friedman’s example, Greer refers to a film he recently made for a non-profit with the help of online resources like Calgary’s iStockPhoto and Toronto’s

“The budget was about 20 percent of what we normally would charge,” said Greer. “After one meeting with the client, almost all our communication was by e-mail. The script was developed and approved using a collaborative tool provided by Internally, we all could look at the script no matter where we were, make suggestions and get to a final draft with complete transparency — easy, convenient and free. We did not have a budget to shoot new footage, yet we had no budget either for stock photography the old way — paying royalties of $100 to $2,000 per image. We found a source,, which offered great photos for as little as a few dollars.

“We could easily preview all the images, place them in our program to make sure they worked, purchase them online and download the high-resolution versions — all in seconds,” Greer added. “We had a script that called for 4 to 5 voices. Rather than hiring local voice talent — for $250 to $500 per hour — we searched the Internet for high-quality voices that we could afford. We found several sites offering various forms of narration or voice-overs. We selected In less than one minute, we created an account, posted our requirements and solicited bids. Within five minutes, we had 10 to 15 ‘applicants’ ” — charging 10 percent of what Greer would have paid live talent.

Congrats to two Canadian success stories for some great coverage.