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corbis-logoCorbis, the image archiving company owned by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, is rolling out massive layoffs as the photo licensing business becomes increasingly challenging, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The Seattle-based company has been stockpiling a trove of historic photos since Gates founded Corbis in 1989. But recently, it has seen an “accelerated decline” in its ability to license its images, according to a memo CEO Gary Shenk sent employees this week that was obtained by Bloomberg.

The company has tried launching new initiatives, but that revenue has been unable to make up for the losses as the company’s core business faces steep competition from stock photo companies like Getty Images.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

A source with knowledge of the situation told Bloomberg the cuts will affect 15 percent of Corbis workers.

In the memo, Shenk wrote that he would try to accelerate the company’s new initiatives and stabilize the licensing business by focusing on premium content and core customers, according to Bloomberg.

Corbis Chief Revenue Officer Mark Owens is also leaving the company.

“This week, we will be launching a long-term strategic plan to support these objectives, as well as taking major steps to restructure the organization in support of this strategy,” Shenk wrote in the memo.

GeekWire has reached out to Corbis for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

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