The first time I used Flickr, I knew it was something different and something important. It took me a while to figure out and try to articulate exactly what that was, but I took my first swipe back in September when I called it a Next Generation Web Service. In that posting, I said:

Flickr has been on my radar for a while now, but I only recently began to start playing with it. I'm impressed as hell. After my first 10 minutes of playing with it, I found myself thinking "why don't we build stuff like this at Yahoo?" In other words, I realized that we could probably learn a lot from this when it comes to building next generation applications at Yahoo. (Whether or not we do is a whole separate topic of discussion.)

Flickr has the potential to set the new standard for on-line photo sharing, management, etc. Why? Because Flickr...

  • does one thing and does it well
  • provides a clean and simple UI
  • has clear and helpful documentation
  • exposes core functionality with a documented API
  • account sign up is brain-dead simple
  • makes extensive and intuitive use of RSS
  • like, uses tags to help organize
  • doesn't spam me with graphical/animated/flash ads or try to unexpectedly pop up any sort of window

In other words, it's developer friendly, user friendly, and is a web site as well as a "service" or "platform" (in the Web 2.0 sense) all at the same time.

It was around that time that I jokingly responded to every mention of Flickr at the office with "you know, we should buy them..." And I was only half joking.

Be careful what you wish for, right? :-)

Since then a lot has happened and I've had the chance to meet the Flickr team a few times. That has only convinced me even more that they have what it takes to really change things. Combining their mix of tagging, communities, syndication, open APIs, and interactive UI with Yahoo's services and millions of users will lead to even more great stuff.

As Caterina wrote, this isn't about just throwing millions of users at Flickr or bolting Flickr onto Yahoo! Photos. Think more deeply about it. There are many parts of Yahoo that will be Flickrized in the coming months. And with more resources available, Flickr itself will be able to grow like never before.

Personally, I can't wait. I've been really excited by the potential here for a while now. And I don't mean the sort of "excited" people say when they're expected to say it. If only you could ask the people around here that I've been taking to in recent weeks.

It's such a relief to be able to talk openly about this. There's obviously more good stuff in the works. For starters, just think about how we could Flickrize Yahoo! 360 (and it's not even out yet!). Oh, and I can finally stop pretending I don't know what my friends are talking about when they ask if there's something going on between the two companies!

Sorry, Adam. You guessed wrong on this one.

To the Flickr Team

Congrats and welcome to the Yahoo family. It's a big one but you're going to be a very big part of it. You have a lot of fans here--probably even more after today. :-)

The next few months are probably going to be crazy. But if any of you have questions about Yahoo or just want to grab lunch at URL's, give me a call/email/IM. I'll do anything I can to help.

You guys rock.


More to come...

Posted by jzawodn at March 20, 2005 12:56 PM

Reader Comments
# Allspaw said:

thanks, Jeremy. Crazy months indeed, but I'm sure lots of fun. :)

on March 20, 2005 01:10 PM
# Stewart Butterfield said:

Rock on - thanks Jeremy. It's so nice to be able to talk about it, and I speak for everyone here when I say we appreciate the welcome :)

on March 20, 2005 01:20 PM
# George said:

Hi Jeremy! Thanks, and Can't Wait.

on March 20, 2005 01:22 PM
# Matt said:

While this is great news for the Flickr team, I'm guessing this will kill any hope for Picasa-Flickr integration. Hopefully it won't turn Oddpost-like and cease to be updated for months.

on March 20, 2005 02:37 PM
# Stewart Butterfield said:

(Hey Google - we'd still like to see the Picasa integration, or at least being able to post your photos to Flickr without going through the email process ... API is open ;)

on March 20, 2005 02:45 PM
# Adam said:


But you have to admit both my reasoning and my estimated timing (45 days from February 15th) were pretty darn close :D.

Anyway, much congrats to Yahoo! and Flickr (just please, please don't make them add the dumb exclamation mark!)

on March 20, 2005 02:59 PM
# TDavid said:

This is a smart acquisition. Congratulations to both parties!

I made sure to get this listed in Google News via a news article I posted at Blogcritics (see URL in signature for details).

on March 20, 2005 03:43 PM
# Jeff Clavier said:

Absolutely agree with Stewart, and as already requested via the Blogger boys, Picasa needs to provide us all with a direct post API.

on March 20, 2005 03:43 PM
# jr said:

"They're not going to replace any of us with suits, nor induce us to wear them. "

Does anyone at Yahoo even own a suit?

on March 20, 2005 04:45 PM
# said:

"Bro G, I like ya, but we pwned u this time".

Of course, Jeremy cannot write anything like that here, so I'll do it for him :)

on March 20, 2005 07:44 PM
# spliff said:

Yahoo taking over "the grid"? lol. cool buy. i love flicker but find picasa is probaby more user friendly... who will be moving blogs to yahoo i wonder? Do we move everytime there is something new offered... better tech or tools. But when i beats the other do we move back. How does brand loyalty work i wonder. Yahoo has to come up with something sustaining... leverage Flicker to do some cool tech antics me thinks!

on March 20, 2005 08:28 PM
# Esoos said:

Guess I'll finally have to stop using Webshots :)

BTW, it looks like your trackbacks are broken, can't seem to ping this post in Movable Type.

on March 20, 2005 08:30 PM
# Artem Frolov said:

First things to do at Flickr:

* Get rid of that stupid Flash
* ...

on March 20, 2005 09:17 PM
# Tom Norian said:

I don't get flickr...tried it, and I still am, but I don't see any "beat" there...even if it wern't my beat, I can't get it...I don't see any engergy and freespirited sharing...
it is possible I'm missing it, and I would like to get a link or two to where there is this active message board or picture for picture dialogue it you see this "social networking there"

Perhaps its just a *Vehicle* for conversation, like instant messanger, which I know that lots of people use, but which I find unintersting because of its's immmediacy (which seems to be why peopl like it).

Want artistic experssion from people of all ages who art great at it? Try

Everyday you can find new images that you'll love, and will deepen your love and knowledge of the world in the light they shine on it. I put up a few on my own community, but they pale in comparrison to the enlightening photo's of super artists there!

on March 20, 2005 10:04 PM
# Arjun Singh said:

Hello Jeremy - first time poster here, I think.

I think it's going to be really important to play up the photo annotation part of Flickr. You did not mention that in your post, I don't think.

I think RSS and even keyword tagging is still the realm of blogging geeks. Not a big selling point for most users yet.

It is going to be interesting to see if Flickr gets less cool or if Yahoo users will be more cool.

on March 20, 2005 10:41 PM
# Jack said:

Good to finally see some thought leadership being acquired at Yahoo!

on March 20, 2005 11:33 PM
# Denis De Mesmaeker said:

I do agree with you. Flickr is a great service! But what I do not like at Flickr is their biz-model. That's also why, I haven't posted picture so far for myself.
Usually people don't have that much vacation, let's say 2-5 times a year. So major of the people take pictures 2-5 times a year (I mean in a bigger part, sure, there are some other events, where people shoot pictures). So as a normal user, I have only a few times a year more than 10 pictures a month (lets say a picture is 1M and there is the limit of 10M a month on the free account). So I pay actually for a regular fee, but I do not upload in a regular basis. But ok, the yearly fee of 60$ is not a lot, but I was just thinking about how good the bis-model fits to the users...

on March 21, 2005 02:29 AM
# Collin said:

Denis, just because you don't take that many pictures doesn't mean others don't. ;-)

If you take pictures so infrequently, why pay for a Pro account?

on March 21, 2005 03:47 AM
# Justin said:


Flickr is simple. They took something that sucked and made it awesome. You have all these "digital imaging" companies that don't improve on ideas and make crappy website to share photos. It used to be hard to share some photos with friends that you took of some party over the weekend. You had to deal with space, photos getting deleted after a time, etc. But Flickr... Flickr is easy to use, understand, and share which made major improvements in the way we share. It's awesome.

This happens all the time though. To draw a tacky parable... Take for example the splash that Google made when they improved the search arena. I was a simple idea too.. Just improve search using a clean & easy to use interface.

I really think this is the tip of the iceberg for Flickr and now that they have the resources to weather any storm & and very smart people I'm pretty sure we will see great things to come.

- jw

on March 21, 2005 08:25 AM
# IDentity said:


at web 2.0 Jerry stated (when questioned) that yes, a consumer's data should be portable. This is very much the Flikr I know and used explicitly use for that specific reason.

So I'll get to my question (finally) - if Yahoo! are explicitly open to cross data transfer between the platform and the user, is it the implicit activity mining across millions of users where the true value is to be obtained?

Many will get hung up on the "build it, flip it" model, but I get a feeling that this was no shotgun wedding!!

on March 21, 2005 01:18 PM
# Mdog said:

Sure hope this doesn't change the inclusion of images in amongst technorati tag search results...

on March 21, 2005 01:44 PM
# Justin said:

wwwooaaahhh!!!! Rock on Yahoo! Best-Aquisition-Ever... period.

Here's hoping you just let the Flickr guys get on with it - dont break that UI - it rocks.

on March 21, 2005 02:48 PM
# Tom Norian said:

You know, I was perplexed by the public reaction to Joe Kennedy and Princess Di's deaths so I know I have a big blind spot...

Flickr's ease to use, I can totally see. It is easy. And whatever those standard Upi 's or whatever you call them and the rss ease of passing things on...and posting files elsewhere...yes I guess thats progress...

Its just the lack of outward links that rile me....If you clikc on a person's pictures, it would be nice for that to link to a customized page where they could send you to their favorite underground band site, some strident religious or anti religious site, and basically be totally of sitw quickly.

That Flickr can get an "agency" slice for passing through their nexus...that seems fair...

but by providing a "walled garden" the're sort of provding a trojan horse taking away reasons and abilty to express other topics and links in a "pinch"

While most people won't be political most of the time, given a state of crisis , it sure would be nice for people acting together to communicate and colalecse and deny all abilty of traditional media and governments to intevene with the communication by threats of lible etc.

I see it as a serious issue. If speach goes on in "moderated" forums, all speach can be influenced.

Say that the supreme court makes a ruling restricting state and local rights for self-governance and presuposes not rights of amercians to be of different opinions on serious things, but supposes that the majority has the right to live in such a way that they won't be offended by rights of others?

Shouldn't blogs, phot-sharing spots and other places of communication be open enough "common carriers" to allow quick communication in the ways that instant messaging has led to "people power" in the philipines?

The idea that "public communciation" is going on in places that can be put under the thumb of governments (like the EU restricting Google results) is rather irratating to me.

That generally liberal minded people will verbally suport insitutions that will tend to restrict free and wide dissapation of ides can kind of even rile me.

Hey, I know we got to earn a living, and yeah, sometimes we'll tone things down a bit. Sure Yahoo has reponsibilties, and certainly contraints on spam can be put in without limmiting outbound links of people who are willing to generally say who they are or have proven themselves for a while to be other than shout and dash members.

Flikr and Yahoo360 is a bit of a danger should they not allow a person to point outward from the content they contribute.

on March 22, 2005 07:44 PM
# John said:

Um, Tom Norian: Flickr does allow you to put, within your profile page, a link to your blog, your band's site, your favorite underground hacking site, or whatever. "outward" linking is already there.

on March 22, 2005 07:57 PM
# Tom Norian said:

Sorry John,

I don't see it.

Click on one of Jeremy's pictures, and you can get to other pictures. Maybe he doesn't wand outbound links...

If you go far enough sure you can click on a persons's name and then their profile and then you get a link or two, basically unassociated with any picture or collum...

Not that everybody wants to post external text links.

I might put up a picture of San quetin just for the art of it, but I'd also think that in a communication forum you'd want to be able to link to articles concerning future land uses of the prison.

Maybe Jeremy put up the water heater pictures for artistic expression , but if he had links with each picture to his blog entries on his dilemma, other people stumbling on the pictures during a search might learn some useful information.

My main point above too, is that by providing a "discussion" forum or a sharing place or whatever, where people can't link pictures to topics outside, the success of that medium crowds out mediums of expression outside the control of governments and interstst that might be moved by profit motives of their partners.

I won't argue with Flikr's "right" to choose its method of doing buisness but I will take issue with folks promoting flicr who considerthemselves friends of promoting open expression beyond the reach of bigger media organizations.

Like I mentioned in my first comment, there are issues of spam and the "moral hazzard" where spammers can ruin a good open forum because of the profit motive for them to link outward.

There are ways of handling spam conflicts while still giving great latitude of expression. (think of craigs list, where commercial motives should be even higher)

on March 22, 2005 09:11 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Did you know you can put URLs in the comments/discussion on a picture?

on March 22, 2005 09:14 PM
# Tom Norian said:

Ok, I stand corrected in detail.

I *was* able to put a url, Even in comments on some one else's pictures!

It seems like most people don't really want to put in urls or they don't understand that they could or I've just been looking at the wrong "hot pictures" with no links ...after about 30 or 40 I finally came across one.

About the same time I saw Jeremy's note (as I was coming back to find the permalink url to the picture concerned)

Yes the dialogue capabilty IS there !

Like I said (and I did ask a few days ago for examples of the "converstation" I was missing) I might not be enough connected to "mainstream" communication desires...for all I know people are isntant messaging and including links to the flickr pictures rather than some other way areound.

Hope it stays there.!

on March 22, 2005 09:28 PM
# Tom Norian said:

Of course to make an active link *here* forces a different protocol.

link to Jeremy's water heater picture on flickr

I'm sort of into free assoiciation wandering through information. Put me in front of an encylodedia and its amazing the off topic things I learn.

I've sort of wandered into this "search" topic in a simlar way, and after a few years, I'll wander elsewhere with the context I can take away from getting in a bit deeper to search economics and process than I have any real reason to.

Seems to me that we are at a media and communications cross roads, and as the roads and trade routes have determined the seats of wealth in power in the past, (like think greek navy, and persian empire silk routes, and spanish armada, and eglands rule of the sea, the advent of railroads, autombiles etc)I'd think that understanding the technologies and the aglomorations of influence related to today's communication is of great socio-economic interest.

Mostly for fun, but there are more worldly reasons for getting the understanding too in terms of maintaing general political freedom and making a living without having your time accountable to others etc.

on March 22, 2005 09:43 PM
# Jared said:

Hey Jeremy,

I was curious will that yahoo 360 thing you mentioned will have an addition to the Yahoo! Toolbar much like Google has that BlogThis button on there bar for IE ? BTW: I think it's awesome you guys natively support your toolbar for firefox, it is my understanding that the Googlebar for mozilla isn't supported by google directly or they at least aren't developing it. (I read somewhere that the they won't let the mozilla version show the toolbar PageRank). Thanks!

on March 23, 2005 05:40 AM
# Steve Mallett said:

Hi Jeremy,

I thought you might be interested that I've launched a second tagging / social bookmarking site:

Runs on Rubric which I saw in your linkblog a while ago.

I didn't make it to Emerging Tech this year so I did this instead.


on March 24, 2005 12:05 PM
# Anjan Bagchee said:

One thing is absolutely certain. In typical Yahoo fashion, Mac users will get sidelined again. We all know they got you to switch back to the bullock cart platform :)

on March 25, 2005 05:46 AM
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