Yahoo buys Flickr! (actually, they buy Ludicorp)
Sunday, Mar 20, 2005
After rumors, cagey refutations, and more rumors of acquisition countered by rumors of next-round VC funding, Ludicorp (creators of Flickr) today announced that they have indeed concluded an acquisition deal with Yahoo.

Personally, I (almost) couldn't be happier with the news. Unlike a lot of acquisitions happening in this space by leading internet companies, Flickr wasn't a technological or 'quick-fix' acquisition. They've really hit the spot on how photo sharing on the net can be scalable, community oriented, and centered around the photographers, and not a proscribed business model.

Unlike so many sites based on premises like 'we can make money by getting people to print their photos through us' or 'we can make money by using other people's content to build the walls of our garden a little bit higher,' Flickr instead is a mirror of the web, where photos are atomic pieces of content, like web pages. The ability to create linkages between photos based on common theme, author, reader favorites, or collaborative groups, means that the Flickr site is a fertile bed, full of nutrients giving rise to communities formed through usage, instead of (well, in addition to) explicit friendship circles.

Flickr didn't start out as what it is today. Stewart and Caterina started Flickr small, with a group of users who were highly focused on both photography and online community, and they paid close attention to what worked about the site and what didn't, and they changed it again and again. There are so many features of Flickr that don't bear enumerating because they don't read well as an itemized feature list, but when you're actually reading or publishing through the site, you're constantly surprised by how well thought out it is, and how you can do nearly anything you want.

One of my favorites is the concept of monthly storage allowance. 500 megs of photo space sounds generous when you've only uploaded four pictures, but when you're at 450 megs, it seems a lot smaller. Opting instead to let people upload a fixed amount of data per month, Flickr allows users to throttle themselves if they're adding too much too fast, instead of forcing them to hit a functional brick wall when their quota approaches at highway speeds.

I was also encouraged to read that Flickr isn't seen by Yahoo as a Photos substitute. They each have their own user base, with their own wants and needs, and merging the two would only end up with muzak (and picking one over the other would result in pebcak, as one set of users' application knowledge becomes obsolete).

I'm eager to see how this fits into Yahoo 360, and hopefully I don't have more than a week or so to wait, though Flickr integration may take a bit longer, unless the deal's been signed for a while now, and integration is already well underway. Then again, maybe I speak too soon. Flickr already provides RSS and Atom feeds of almost any page you can get to on its site, so much of the groundwork may already be laid down.

Congrats Ludicorp, and congrats Yahoo. Now let's see if we can get Game Neverending back up off the ground!

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Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
I've been blogging at since 1998.
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