Lobster Wants To Be The Google Of User Generated Content

Lobster, a marketplace for licensing user-generated content, is now launching a universal search feature that allows brands and publishers to search for user-generated content across multiple social platforms.

The search functionality allows users, usually corporate marketers, digital agencies or publishers, to run a search across various social media for specific imagery and then request a license for that content through the platform. No longer is the service limited to what users submit to it directly, but opens up potential to license content from everyday users of Instagram and Flickr, with plans to expand to Twitter, Vine, Facebook and Vimeo, according to founder Olga Egorsheva.

“We realized how difficult it was to search across Instagram for content using multiple criteria, and even when you find content you want, the process of licensing it can be painstaking,” said Egorsheva. “We’re solving that problem of search, and then facilitating the licensing process for our users.”

After users select about ten photos they’d like to license, Lobster takes on the task of contacting the owner of the photo (sometimes through an Instagram comment or direct message, or an email, depending on the platform) and setting up a deal for that photo to be licensed out. Flickr users can receive up to $3/image, and Instagram users can receive up to $2/photo at first, with the opportunity to drive up the value through receiving more and more demand.

Lobster launched back at Disrupt London in October and now wants to move from “the iTunes of user-generated content to the Google or Etsy of user-generated content,” according to Egorsheva.

Lobster has raised around $100K in seed funding since launch.