Chris and I were talking, sitting around a dining table with a bench and some chairs. I remember there was a lot of light and windows all around. Don (his son) was going in and out of the house taking delivery of some hardware/servers. Toni (his wife) was handling customer support from a room upstairs. And there was a dog, I think. That's it!
It was a breath of fresh air for me! In a place that has a deep-rooted infatuation with building products on raised capital, they were running their company as a small business. They were going up against giants like Snapfish, Shutterfly, Google, Yahoo and a bunch of others in a crowded space. Unlike those giants, they were charging money for their service! And they had the audacity of doing it under the name SmugMug. I recall Chris grinning about how much some people hated the name SmugMug!
This was the only time I met them. I've thought back to that meeting many times over the years. It was inspiring for me to see software/technology being used build something for a niche need... with a clear focus on running it as a small business. I found that to be uplifting then and I still do today.
Every couple of years I'd go to their site and see how they continued to grow. And each time it would bring a smile to my face. That they ended up buying Flickr is so darn sweet... I could not hoped for a better cherry-on-top to how I personally view the SmugMug story.
What’s interesting about photo related business is that longevity really matters. It’s hard to imagine handing your family memories to a fast-pivot-exit-happy “startup”. There are many YC companies founded in this area but none had survived so far?
I'm a relatively late adopter (2009) but I really loved Smugmug from the start. As someone into both technology and photography, Smugmug was the perfect product! I remember really wanting to work for them as a college student - everything about the company was extremely motivating. It still is.
Their response? "Yeah, we know, it doesn't work with Credit Card Company AAAA yet, but thanks for telling us. Here, have a lifetime free pro account"
Over on the USA Today article, there's this line:
A longtime fan of Flickr, MacAskill says before making any decisions, he plans to collect feedback from employees and users.
Hey Don - I used to pay money for Flickr, and I'm happy to start paying again if there is evidence of forward motion. I want to have a place to securely store my RAW files in addition to my edited photographs, and I want to see a focus on community again.
Since you're here, may I voice a thing I really enjoyed about Flickr? Community and actual human communication.
Perhaps in the mobile era this isn't possible anymore since everyone is attention starved and tiny screens and keyboards aren't conducive to longform communication, but this was Flickr's strength.
You'd find a group where your photos were relevant and start conversations with strangers halfway around the world. The ability for groups to self-moderate is key because it kept groups on topic. I just poked around some communities I used to frequent like Hardcore Street Photography  and Guess Where SF , and they're surprisingly still habited.
Instead of trying to be another Instagram, I hope the future of Flickr will play to its strengths.
To be honest, most of the Flickr groups seemed completely useless, full of HDR junk and asinine motivational stuff. Though I'm sure it's a bit like Reddit — the good communities are small and hidden.
Follower spam is another example of noise, and something Instagram is also rife with.
The good ones kept those gaudy things at arm's length. Some of these groups have a bit if an attitude at first, but as they get to know you and your dedication, they will warm up to you.
Social media does have tough challenges ahead, especially as bots/spam become more and more prevalent.
I would love to work on a bot-prevention team somewhere, but my background isn't in ML.
Case in point: Google visibility, if you are not Wikipedia no amount of quality content will get you above the link farms if you don't also follow the customary rites of pleasing the algorithm.
Bots can definitely contribute meaningfully in many ways. Mostly through organization (suggesting labels & other metadata, album creation, etc), spam filtering & rule enforcement (like reddit's automoderator), and even automatic editing (like some of the stuff Google Photos offers, like rotation suggestions and various automatic filters).
So what will replace it? I've been a Flickr user for more than 10 years.
I never lost any image and I'm now a happy Smugmug user/customer (ha!), so I don't really care about that anymore -- but yes, the login process is important! Many users would rather change shop than put up with crazy login procedures.
I've been a Pro user of Flickr since 2005 or so. I actually thought for the first time this year that I would cancel it. My number-one complaint is speed. It's so slow. As a professional infrastructure guy, it just kills me and I wished I could buy the company myself and make it fast again. I really hope you will invest in revitalizing this service because I really don't want to go.
My life--from young skier/mountaineer guy--to Army soldier--to dating a girl--marriage--kids--it's all documented there. I look at my old photos all the time but it's just so unbearably slow.
Chris aka https://flickr.com/photos/Defender90
Since you're here and talking about community, can you say what your approach is going to be to the copious content on Flickr that violates SmugMug's content policy (but not Flickr's)?
Flickr's approach in the past  has allowed most things as long as a content filter is applied to keep it from kids and those who don't want to see it. SmugMug's approach  is to very broadly ban anything "indecent" in any context whatsoever (even private backups).
I contacted support and the story right now is that SmugMug policy will apply and any Flickr content that violates it is up for removal. Are you sticking to that? If so, why? It seems like a very destructive thing to do to the community as your first act after acquisition.
Maybe you agree. I guess we'll find out. I wish y'all the best. Fun and competition is a positive for all.
1. Are you going to keep the 1TB free space for everyone?
2. Do you think you'll have a desktop uploader available for non-paying users?
3. What about open-source integration (digiKam, etc)? Last time I tried, I couldn't get it to work with Yahoo authentication.
Thanks, and looking forward to the new life :)
The way I run SmugMug is pretty simple: We love our customers, we listen to them, we build great experiences for them based on that feedback, then we do it all over again. We're going to apply that same approach to Flickr.
Simply migrating them into AWS, and getting off of Yahoo Auth, and the variety of other urgent issues, will take a lot of time, effort, energy, etc. But we're also very excited to get to work enhancing the existing experiences and building new ones.
So please be patient with me as I learn, come up to speed, and tackle some of the big obstacles in front of us. It'll be worth it. :)
I'm hoping for the best, and excited for new blood.
They might have fixed that now but I feel it would take quite some effort for them to make them feel safe again.
Don here is clearly much more on top of the situation than that, but my point is that any big social site ends up seeing this with enough outrage.
And when something is big enough news, it makes it to the top-10 news thing on the right-hand side of Facebook.
What I really would like to see in Flickr is a reliable upload application. When I'm back from a trip, I usually have a few gigabytes of photos. Regular applications can handle small (hundreds megabytes) batches but when you are talking about gigabytes they start crashing, or stopping in the middle, and cannot continue where they stopped reliably. I would like an application that uploads to Flickr, with retries, status, and with checksum verification on the client and in the server.
The same is true for download. Flickr handle well individual downloads and small batches of download. But when trying to download large albums they simple cannot handle it.
I have been writing my own applications and scripts to handle my photos on Flickr, so it's absolutely important to keep the current API open.
I rely a lot on those statistics to generate more views and contacts
I would also like an expansion and more detailed analysis
Why can't I know WHICH picture was found through Google
(You don't, you say there were X finds through Google, but we can't see which picture)?
Why don't you show the Google Search URL?
Looking at SmugMug price plans you are MUCH more expensive than Flickr,
are you going to be raising PRO costs? And if you do, are you going to pull
the PR stunt of saying it is needed to "To Grow and Improve" and"We think the services offered are at the best price point, there is always free" ? Because Free is not a middle ground.
Because you acquired Flickr, you knew what was coming with it, IE, customers, there is no way to pass raising Tariffs without upsetting your New user base which has never asked for you and is tired of being thrown around from one company to another.and saying you have "no plans for the immediate future" it really does seem that you care more about your increased bourse instead of offering your clients an increased experience?
Are you going to include website hosting services to flickr users within the PRO price and go after 500px, or will you Keep the two Services very clear of each other for a different experience?
If you are keeping the two Services Separate, then aren't you really just here to collect a bigger check? If Yahoo / Verizon / Oath was not willing to spend money to upgrade our services and gain more users and you are, wouldn't this mean our subscription fees will increase?
Why should we remain here instead of going to 500px which offers a similar service to you but for much cheaper?
The old adage of "you kind of get what you pay for" seems to apply.
I really don’t want to use another platform for storing my photos, even Twitter stream photos, and having Flickr, where I am in control was always my preferred choice.
Looking forward to keep using Flickr where the owners actually care.
Will you keep the current 1 TB free storage tier as is?
SmugMug has offered unlimited storage for more than 15 years, so we know a lot about the space. I'm excited to see what we can do with and for the community.
I have a smugmug account. Is there going to be a way to marry the two??? I have 11 years of photos on Flickr and would hate to have to move them (your sys people would hate it too I’m sure).
But logically, it makes sense that connecting them somehow makes a lot of sense. SmugMug has consumed the Flickr API for awhile, so some of the plumbing is already in place.
Stay tuned while we learn from our customers what they'd like and then build it. My hunch is better connectivity between the two services is going to be high on the list, but I'm going to let our customers drive that decision.
Much good luck!
I don’t really remember Flickr trying to become another Instagram, but much of the founding team had left Flickr before Instagram was a thing and the more of the Flickr founding team in the early years of Instagram.
I just reread Mat Honan’s April 2012 article “How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet”. It still stands out as an insightful article on what went wrong at Yahoo!’s Flickr https://gizmodo.com/5910223/how-yahoo-killed-flickr-and-lost...
But in a way that's clever; I think reflects their intention to capture spontaneous moments, regardless of technical merit. You can't zoom-in to be wowed by 50MP of detail and thus it puts everyone on the same level, regardless of tools, and focuses them on composition and timing.
Serious groups like organizing shows, workshops, quality book printing, blogging (for news and events), and better ways to organize and display photos of interest [group a series of photos regardless of member [so long as the photo was public] --like the group pool stream but allow to showcase photos from sources other then "this group" or "my stream".
If you're under 1TB (on a personal/professional account), you might also test whether Onedrive would work for you - particularly if you're on Windows 10 where Files On-demand is now integrated into the OS.
If nothing else, the bulk storage cost of Onedrive is somewhere around half the cost of Dropbox.
I've known the SmugMug founders from the beginning.
First of all, they're one of the nicest people you can imagine. They're also super committed to the photographers and the photography community. Everyone there is not only a photo geek, but they're constantly helping, supporting and promoting photographers. 4 of my photos are printed in large size (one is wall-height) at their office along with many other photographers. That alone just shows you how much they're into their community.
An interesting ironic story. In one of my old jobs, I signed a multiyear partnership with them and our company. They had just started. Flicker was couple of years old, but it was already surpassing the early photo sharing site, Pbase.
The founders of SmugMug had earlier started FatBrain online bookstore and had a successful exit. But both my CEO and myself were photo geeks and we thought of ourselves as consumer experts. So we kept nagging on SmugMug to change their UI to resemble more like Flickr. Mind you, SmugMug now, looks very different than it did back then. However, the founders were very focused (obviously much smarter than we were) on what they thought should be their main focus, building an online solution for pro photographers.
So, for me it's very ironic, that after all these years and us nagging on them to be more like Flickr, that they now own Flickr.
I know some of you might be skeptical of mergers, and it remains to be seen. However, knowing the SmugMug DNA, I couldn't have imagined a better custodian for the Flickr and its community. Give the SmugMug guys a chance to prove themselves to you.
This is going to be far from easy, but I think it will be fun, exciting and rewarding. We're excited to thrill photographers all over the world.
- change Flickr to look more like SmugMug (if at all the platforms are not merged),
- or leave it as it is today (the slow, heavy, and glossy Flickr),
- or try to bring back something close to the blazing fast Flickr days when it looked so clean and minimal and was not at all glossy.
Many of us are pining for the latter.
The one feature I hope Smugmug adds is captions. I often see incredible nature photos, and I've no idea where on the planet the image is.
Likewise, some images appear to be old, I would love it if these images had years attached to them.
"Most Popular On Flickr" is the "show" that I watch more than any other, in the sense that I if I am home at my apartment, I often leave the screen on all day, so it is always there playing any time I look that way. A lot of the photos are mediocre, but sometimes something catches my attention and I look up and see something great.
Smugmug's Acceptable Use Policy  is rather puritan, forbidding things that are "indecent", "lewd", "sexually suggestive" or anything else that "in the sole judgment of SmugMug, is objectionable, harmful".
Flickr's  on the other hand is rather accepting: "If you would hesitate to show your photos or videos to a child, your family, or a stranger on the street, that means you need to set the appropriate content filter setting."
I really hope Smugmug doesn't force their ideals on Flickr. It'd be nice if instead they used Flickr as an example of how to loosen content restrictions on Smugmug.
This is destructive and makes me sad for Flickr's future.
I just hope they don't decide to mass delete everything with a content filter applied, since in theory all that content violates their new policy.
A friend used a site that had those sorts of free use licenses, and then got hit by the Getty lawyers: It turned out that someone was just taking stock images and posting them on their own account with a gratis license, which of course does nothing to excuse the people trusting it in faith.
Not sure how to solve that problem.
Worked really well to upload photos from phone to a private repo. Captions, and a link in the SHARE TO camera library.
Not everyone wants a travel blog. Current Flickr worked well.
- As a photographer, I enjoy photography on desktop computers rather than mobile screens. This is why I prefer Flickr over Instagram.
- Delete the Yahoo login please.
- Bring back the community feeling. I used to check Flickr blog every week to see what is going on in the Flickr community.
- Simplify the product please. I think Flickr is great at organizing photos but it's not ideal for following photographers.
- Usernames are a mess. Let's say your username was "bob" when you registered as a Flickr user. Later, Yahoo Flickr renamed usernames as "handle" and introduced another username. Please unify usernames and handles and make it simple again.
Best of luck. I hope Flickr's destiny won't be like Delicious.
2. Smugmug charges money for their product and eventually buys free-product competitor Flickr.
Charging customers for your service really does help you win in the long run.
Edit: Taken from this tweet - https://twitter.com/zachleat/status/987523973612298240
Solid consistent business model vs. mismanaged dyno
Win step for smugmug.
Isn't that true for Yahoo in general? They kinda stumbled upon being internet giant, and have been utterly confused on what to do next ever after.
Nice commentary on Yahoo!
On a side note, this is a terrible announcement page when viewed on FireFox 59. It's barely usable. It works well on Chrome though.
Its either poor design by SmugMug, superior design by Google Chrome, or leveraging some capability of chrome not available on FireFox. The cake flying is delayed by 1+ second each scroll. Please do more cross-browser testing!
I spent several days this year deleting all of those photos (because of course there was no batch delete that I could find).
Hopefully Smugmug does something great!
in any case click You->Organize. Drag photos into batch area and pick Edit Photos->Delete
This is just about the best thing that could happen to Flickr, far better than being swallowed by GOOG/FB/DBX and then end-of-lifed.
Give me this and I sign up for a paid account:
* RAW storage for Fuji cameras
* no shenanigans where you try to own or sell my photos
* acceptable price (hobbyist range, not pro photog)
I‘m indifferent about:
* video storage
* a store to sell my photos
* a service to print my photos
I‘d consider a huge selling point:
* some kind of ECC for photos, to fight bit-rot
Why Fuji? Is there any specific thing about those RAW files or just your use case?
In the height of my pro-photo life, Smugmug was the only place to care about durability, presentation, and maintaining reasonable margins. While dozens of competitors faded off over time from ignoring one or the other. Glad to see the good ones win.
SmugMug could have diluted itself by bolting on a chat app, or it could have gotten bogged down in endless site re-designs, or chased the suicidal “growth at any cost” goal. Remarkable that Don had the vision to not do these insane things. I wish these guys the best of luck with this new “turnaround“ project!
Thanks a lot for taking on the big task on reviving Flickr ! I think SmuMug is a good fit for this task =). If I can help in any way to help you do that, please email me ! I live in Europe so maybe if you need a rep there ahhahaha
Some suggestions :
- I am still a Pro Flickr subscriber amd I use Flickr mostly as my "photo hardrive in the cloud" and to share pictures in high quality for weddings & cie.
- However it's unbearably slow to organize your pictures on Flickr when you have 40.000+/10+ years of pictures. I even tried to use Flickr-Fuse, mounted as filesystem on my computer, to try to reorganize my content, but no help on that point.
- And I tended to use Flickr less as a "cloud photo backup harddrive" these last years because it has became quite slow and unreliable to upload pictures on Flickr.
- Please simplify and improve the API too, so we can have cool tools again to go with Flickr/SmugMug (FlickMug? Smugkr ? hahaha )
- RAW format upload/download would be a big differentiator from Instagram & cie.
All the best to you in this new big adventure !
There are hundreds of sites where people can dump their unprocessed vacation photos from their iPhones. My main interest in Flickr was as a place to share and discover high-quality photo works. That means good support for high-resolution images, professionally looking albums, flexible sharing options (private groups, etc).
Meanwhile, storage and bandwidth are two of the more expensive things around.
Turning things around could as this thread suggests could greatly improve the income. But again, I feel surprised there was a Flickr still around to acquire.
Flickr has been able to keep naughty pics and groups and made mini social network groups that don't require real names. It's a little known bastion of the old net in some ways.
Now that oauth is pushing these logging / sharing terms updates, I am glad they are getting rid of flickr. I just hope they don't start censoring more and become ruined by investors who push mainstream ad revenue acceptance over having less censored sharing.
I understand they have ways to download your pics in batches to move elsewhere, however for me it's the groups of people who share similar things, comments using aliases, community from around the world, others sharing pics from events I'll likely never be able to visit, and easily creative commons narrow searches by type of license.
There is no way to download all of that... wonder how as much as possible could be ported from and to scuttlebutts groups, buddypress systems and the like.
It was sad watching tumblr and so many others get ruined by greedy overlords, I hope this great portal does not end the same way, and smugmug will let me continue as is.
Looks like they are ruining flickr right out the gate.
thankfully it is quite easy to start a flickr clone these days. buddypress with rtmedia or mediapress and bam it's done.
I was going to start podcasting with anchor fm, but reading over their terms it would be trivial for one group to to get another banned easily and vice versa, so there is no staying power / ownership of data there.
Seeing the loss of data when an account is deactivated at tumblr, fbk, gplus, or other portals, it's not worth creating a community or group within these digital sharecropping portals.
I understand you're going to listen to your customers for a while to learn what they want. So where will you be doing this? Is there a forum you have lined up where we can discuss? I'd love to join in the conversation!
By the way, you'd be a welcome voice in the Flickr Help Forum if you're so inclined :-)
Thanks for answering our questions - this is going to be really great - very happy to be along for the ride!
I was a premium Flickr user for years, and then they broke sharing in a big way. I could no longer send "private" links to people I knew of my photo albums and expect them to be able to view the photos without signing up for an account.
I now share simple photo albums with Microsoft Sway.
In fact, the link is the very first thing you get when you click the "Share" button, no need to click anything else. That feature is actually one of the primary reasons I'm still a Pro user after all those years, so I'm glad they seem to still care about it.
EDIT: I think I do vaguely remember that it was broken (or at least undiscoverable) for a while, so I'm not challenging you, I just wanted to inform you that it's back better than ever.
I assume the app / site are generally better than this?
Browsing and discovering other people's photos is easier on Flickr, but SmugMug is miles ahead when it comes to hosting, printing, presenting, tracking, and organizing. Then again, I pay for it, so I'm sure that's part of it.
I would love if SmugMug kept their existing interface (which I'm sure they will because a lot of pro-photographers use it and want it the way it is), but also gave an option to show SmugMug photos on Flickr.
It would be wonderful to add to this foundational dataset.
But yes, that announcement page is god awful. The scrolling is slow, over done and a crazy bandwidth hog. That weird scroll hijacking shit needs to die in a fire. Some are cute if done right, but lately they're just super over done and useless.
Not a huge deal either way because I haven't uploaded anything to Flickr in ages, and I imported everything into SmugMug when I signed up, but it'd be nice to have them unified.
It's also very weird that one of the promo scenes is a dumpster fire. Wouldn't have been my first choice, but what do I know?
Here’s hoping SmugMug doesn’t languish or get bloated while they take on Flickr!
I’d suggest integration with native desktop applications, automated tagging with area crop (trivial these days), doubling down on IRL communities (Meetup wasn’t ever awarded a patent for that, no?)
I used to post in the street photography groups, had a heavily curated one of our own. Now I tend to use it more for looking at bicycle mod photos but the ads in between are so annoying. The only way Flickr could do worse would be being Pinterest.
Smugmug's ubiquity is up there with B&H, KEH, FredMiranda and KenRockwell.
Has 4 of the same letters, the same pattern X123123 and the different letters are C->S and G->H
I guess what I’m sayimg is I’m kind of burned out by products that I love getting acquired and ruined. I love Flickr and I couldn’t bear to see it go the same way.
One last thing, I put a lot of artwork there too, drawings and stuff as well as my photos. Are we going to be penalised for content such as this that doesn’t fall into what you would call a photo?
Edit: I just read my comment and it sounded negative towards Smugmug. That’s not my intention. If Flickr had to go somewhere, then I’m glad it’s with the Smugmug guys. I’ve heard good things about you over the years!
so any idea what will happen with free 1TB plan and the app? Google photos is the only reason i still keep gapps on my phone, it would be great to be able to rid off it
Still probably better than getting killed off in a month under Oath.
Will these continue, and expand?