Picture this: Oath sells photo-sharing platform Flickr to SmugMug

23 Apr 2018

Image: Flickr/SmugMug

Flickr leaves the Oath family for a new home.

Iconic photo-sharing platform Flickr has been sold by Oath to SmugMug, an independent image-hosting firm, for an undisclosed sum.

Oath is a subsidiary of Verizon, with the latter acquiring Yahoo for $4.5bn in 2016. Yahoo was merged with AOL to become Oath. The sale of Flickr represents the earliest stages of Verizon’s dissection of Yahoo.

‘Flickr has survived through thick and thin and is core to the entire fabric of the internet’

Future Human

Flickr, which was one of the original Web 2.0 internet giants, is still a vital part of the internet and boasts 75m users.

The company was originally established by Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield along with Caterina Fake and Jason Classon. Slack CTO Cal Henderson and another Slack co-founder, Eric Costello, were also involved in Flickr, which was acquired by Yahoo in 2005 for $25m.

The photo site still maintains a proud position in the cultural plumbing of the internet and is still a destination of choice for professional and amateur photographers to share images.

Revitalising an iconic internet brand

Unfortunately, Flickr was allowed to languish in the Yahoo ranks.

Yahoo’s inability to invest in Flickr meant that an important opportunity was lost as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat capitalised on the rise of smartphone photography. Failure to catch the rising smartphone tide was a bit of a trend at Yahoo.

“Flickr has always been defined by the strength of our community,” said Flickr product manager Matthew Roth.

“We are visual storytellers. We are creators. We inspire each other and the world by showcasing the beauty around us. We share our passions and our perspectives. We transcend boundaries with our art. We find affinity with strangers and create bonds that last the length of our lives. We aspire to greatness and we teach each other what we know.

“Over the past 14 years, we’ve embraced our Flickr family and we’ve made Flickr our home.

“Now, we are excited to expand our family and our home. We’re thrilled to announce that Flickr will be joining SmugMug to create the world’s best home for photography.”

SmugMug, a Silicon Valley company founded by a father-and-son team, said it plans to maintain Flickr as a separate entity and site.

“Flickr has survived through thick and thin and is core to the entire fabric of the internet,” said SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill in an interview with USA Today.

“It’s a fantastic product and a beloved brand, supplying tens of billions of photos to hundreds of millions of people around the world.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years