A sharper focus for Flickr

Hi! My name is Don MacAskill, and I’m the Co-Founder, CEO, and Chief Geek at SmugMug. We’re the company that recently acquired Flickr from Yahoo. We love photography.

A Sharper Focus

Unlike most photo sharing services, SmugMug is photographer-focused and has been for more than 16 years. We are privately owned and operated. We never raised venture capital to grow our business and we don’t make money selling our customers or their data to advertisers. That’s kind of amazing.

Instead, we’ve focused on getting to know our customers, who are photographers around the world. We asked them what they wanted, listened carefully, built those things, then asked again. And we kept asking. That’s the big “secret” to our success. I’m excited to bring the same laser customer focus to Flickr.

At SmugMug, we also charged a fair price when others were pretending “free” was actually free. We work for you, not investors or advertisers. We don’t mine you or your photos for data to re-sell or advertise to you. Your data, and your photos, are yours. You’ve entrusted them to us to keep safe. We take that responsibility very seriously and so does Flickr.

The days of lurching from strategy to strategy at Flickr, chasing hot social media trends, are over. Photography and photographers are our strategy. You are our strategy. Period.

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We Love Flickr

We bought Flickr because it’s the largest photographer-focused community in the world. I’ve been a fan for 14 years. There’s nothing else like it. It’s the best place to explore, discover, and connect with amazing photographers and their beautiful photography. Flickr is a priceless Internet treasure for everyone and we’re so excited to be investing in its future. Together, hand-in-hand with the the most amazing community on the planet, we can shape the future of photography.

“If you build it, they will come”

Over the summer, we hit the ground running, learning from a lot of Flickr members. We listened carefully, then got building. That’s what we do. In July, when asked by a member about Flickr’s roadmap, I tweeted:

We’re not done yet, far from it, but I’m excited to share some progress updates on all of those today.

New Simple Login

Easily the #1 most-requested feature has been an improved login system that removes the requirement to have a Yahoo email address. We heard you loud and clear, and we’ve been hard at work building it ever since. You’ll be able to bring your own email and password from anywhere you’d like. You won’t need to worry about moving your photos or losing your Flickr screen name – just login, give us your preferred new credentials, and we’ll handle the rest. If you’d like to keep your Yahoo login, you can even do that as well.

The great news is that internal testing is going well already. We hope to have the community help us finalize testing in December, and for everyone on Flickr to be loving it in January.

De-spamming Flickr

We also heard a lot about spam problems on Flickr. Spammy comments and follows were getting in the way of engaging with other photographers. That’s just terrible and we’re hard at work getting rid of it.

I’m here today to let you know that we’ve already made big improvements at Flickr and have put a serious dent in all sorts of spam. If you’ve used Flickr in the last month, you’ve probably already noticed the dramatic drop-off in bad follows and comments filled with spam.

We’re not done yet, we still have lots of work to do, but I hope you love the improvements we’ve already made, and I can’t wait for you to see what’s next.

Alt Summit 2018

Enhancing Flickr Pro

We heard, loud and clear, that Flickr Pro needed some more love. You gave us a big, long list: more storage, great customer support, better stats, additional partner discounts, and more.

I’m happy to announce that, as of today, Flickr Pro is better than ever. It’s easily the best deal in the world for photographers. Not only that, but we’re publishing our exciting roadmap for everything that’s coming in the next few months which will continue to make Flickr Pro an incredible experience.

Flickr Free members are also essential to a vibrant, healthy Flickr. So we are determined to provide a free tier that allows anyone who is unable or unwilling to pay for Flickr Pro to meaningfully participate in, and contribute to, the Flickr community. Free accounts on Flickr are now for sharing and displaying your 1,000 best photos and videos. When you fall in love with photography and Flickr, unlimited photos and so much more can be found with a Flickr Pro upgrade.

Faster and Stronger

Moving Flickr to a modern new platform is no small feat. With more than 100M accounts, tens of billions of photos, and many billions of page views, it’s a huge job, even for a team with deep experience like ours. We’re hard at work moving Flickr out of Yahoo’s datacenters and into an extremely modern software stack built on top of Amazon Web Services (AWS), and we’ve already made some serious progress.

When we’re finished, Flickr will be faster than ever before. It’ll be more stable, with error-free uploads, and even fewer downtime Pandas. We’ve already moved multiple Flickr services to run 100% in AWS, with many more coming over the next months.

I wrote just the other day about some of the improvements coming to Flickr’s photo ingestion, rendering, and delivery pipelines, which I’m personally involved in. I hope you’ll love the improvements as much as I do.

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Bright Future

Flickr is in great hands with a team that truly loves it. We’re investing in building on your behalf and we have a proven track record of focusing on photographers.

Thank you so much for your trust and engagement. Flickr’s community is everything. We couldn’t do all of this without you and I’m honored to be part of this journey with all of you. I promise I will keep listening, so please, keep the feedback coming.


PS – If you love photography and Flickr like I do, please sign up for Flickr Pro today. If you are already Flickr Pro, thank you so much. You helped get us here today and are bringing all of us into the future. You rock and we love you.

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