SmugMug acquires Yahoo! owned Flickr

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SmugMug have bought Flickr from Yahoo! and AOL merger Oath, where it has languished for well over a decade. Flickr was once the go to place to host your photos online, used by amateur and professional photographers alike. It’s unlikely that you host your ecommerce images on Flickr, but many photographers do use Flickr to showcase and licence their work.

The backdrop to the sale of Flickr is that following the merger of AOL and Yahoo!, the combined business Oath has been divesting some of their services which don’t make sense. Flickr never really found a home at the once mighty Yahoo! and it’s been underdeveloped with no real sense of purpose since it ended up at Oath in 2015.

Today Flickr has become less relevant with the rise of Instagram and Pinterest for photo sharing and Facebook Snapchat and twitter for instant sharing. Naturally social media sites are top for amateur photographers able to instantly share their casual snaps with friends and followers, but what Flickr lacked was the advanced features that upstarts added as standard.

While it’s profile may have diminished, Flickr still has over 100 million users posting billions of images every year. In contrast SmugMug are privately held with no external investment and have been around since 2002, two years before Flickr was founded. They have attracted millions of users who appreciate SmugMug’s personal approach not seen in the giants of photo sharing sites.

Quite what the future holds for Flickr isn’t known, not even by their CEO who admits the acquisition seemed like a good idea but hasn’t got any firm plans for how to develop the combined businesses

“It sounds silly for the CEO not to totally know what he’s going to do, but we haven’t built SmugMug on a master plan either. We try to listen to our customers and when enough of them ask for something that’s important to them or to the community, we go and build it.”
– Don MacAskill, CEO, SmugMug

Whilst buying a business that’s struggled to remain relevant and not having a plan to revitalise it might seem strange, one thing is for sure – SmugMug is likely to be a better landlord than Yahoo! has been as the company is passionate about photos and will likely roll the two brands together.


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