- Beck Diefenbach/Reuters
- Flickr, which was owned by Verizon, has been acquired by photo sharing and image hosting site SmugMug.
- SmugMug does not have any plans to lay off any employees nor fold Flickr into SmugMug.
- The price of the deal has not been disclosed.
Flickr, the once red-hot photo-sharing site, has withered under the corporate ownership of Yahoo and Verizon.
Now Flickr is part of SmugMug, a family-owned online photography firm that just bought it from Verizon.
Despite its smaller size, SmugMug is confident it has the right touch to bring back Flickr’s glory days.
“We love photographers, we are photographers, we’ve been catering directly to photographers for a long long time and we think we have the most insight into what photographers want from these platforms,” SmugMug VP of Operations Ben MacAskill told Business Insider in an interview on Friday.
That might seem like a tall order, given that consumer internet brands are notoriously difficult to revitalize once the buzz is gone. And Flickr is competing for consumers against giants like Instagram and Snapchat. But SmugMug, which was founded in 2002 and is still a family-run operation without any venture capital backing, is not afraid.
“We’ve weathered so many competitors over the years. When we first started, people were asking us why we were competing with brands like Kodak, which really doesn’t exist anymore,” MacAskill says.
“It just wasn’t the right fit for Yahoo”
Flickr was founded in 2004 and bought by Yahoo for $35 million in 2005 after exploding in popularity. The service, which lets users upload and share photos for free was once a cornerstone of the early internet. But its relevance began to decline – as did Yahoo’s – over the years because “it just wasn’t the right fit for Yahoo, they just really didn’t want to be in the space,” MacAskill says.
Shortly after Yahoo was acquired by Verizon and merged with AOL, the new owners approached SmugMug about a possible deal to buy Flickr, he says, noting that talks went on for nearly a year.
“We’ve been friendly with both the Flickr team and the team at Yahoo and then Oath for many many years so it was very natural development to see if we were potentially interested knowing our love of the product,” he said.
MacAskill declined to disclose the price of the deal, but said the company will keep Flickr as an independent and free website. He added that SmugMug does not have plans to lay off any Flickr employees.
So what’s the vision for Flickr 2.0?
It’s too early to tell what, if anything, will change about Flickr’s core service and functionality. But MacAskill did say that SmugMug doesn’t want to upend the community on Flickr nor get rid of the photos currently on it. He instead wants to invest in it.
“We just really love the platform,” he says. “I think it’s one of the greatest treasures of the internet.”