Kevin Smith has stepped down from the helm of news agency Splash after building it from being a one-man band to a $30m a year turnover business.
Smith set up the Los Angeles-based agency 22 years ago and was joined 18 months later by partner Gary Morgan. Since then it has grown into one of the largest celebrity news and pictures agencies in the world and it was bought last year by Corbis.
It employs around 100 people and has offices in Sydney, Rome, Berlin, London, Miami, New York and LA.
In an email to colleagues Smith said: "Since Splash was acquired over a year ago, my role has been to work with the team to explain how we do things and hand over the reins once we had achieved a stable state in our integration activities. Thanks to your collective efforts and diligence that day has come. I’m pleased to say that at this time operations are running well and that Splash is poised to thrive for years to come.
“As you’ve seen, content has surged and we’ve seen unprecedented successes across the business over the past few months and we continue to grow our SNTV business, develop new offerings and sell more pictures from a growing community of photographers worldwide.
”I am immensely proud of Splash and what we’ve achieved and pleased to share that Gary Morgan will remain to support Juli Cook in her leadership of the Media team as we continue the positive momentum.”
Morgan and Smith were both shifting on the UK nationals when they decided to quit Fleet Street and try their luck as freelances. The sale price of Splash a year ago is not known, but it is thought to be well in excess of the $30m annual turnover the business is currently understood to be achieving.
Smith said: “When I arrived in Los Angeles 22 years ago – with my entire belongings crammed into one suitcase around a giant fax machine and a Tandy laptop – I couldn’t have dreamed of the success that would follow.
"The name 'Splash' was bestowed on me as a joke by a colleague who thought such a grand label on my feeble freelance career was hilarious. Fortunately, Splash grew into its name and today it fits perfectly.
"Over the past two decades we have excelled and been at the forefront of every major celebrity news story and covered these stories with panache, flair and often a cheeky wink.
“I have loved listening to the war stories of how a story was landed, told over a beer at Clancy’s, or the Crown, or the Kings Head. Even after 22 years, I still get a huge grin on my face when I see the Splash byline on a front page.
”We assembled a dynamic and exceptional team and it caught people’s attention. It is no coincidence that Splash was courted by many, but ultimately acquired by Corbis. As Corbis CEO Gary Shenk said, ‘Put simply, you guys won’.
“I am truly grateful for what Splash has achieved and am proud that our teams pulled together to make Splash not only a successful business but a fun place to work. Sure, there were arduous times, long hours, and countless calls in the middle of the night – for your dedication and support through those difficult times, I want to thank each of you. As for my plans, I really don’t have any yet, but I will be seeing a lot more of the family.”