Dear Verizon: Now that you’re buying Yahoo!, please don’t shut down Flickr

Indulge me, please, in a moment of worry.

In case you’ve been living under a rock — and given the horrorshow that is this American Presidential election, I wouldn’t blame you — you might have missed that Verizon is buying Web pioneer Yahoo! for $4.8 billion. Photo-sharing site Flickr is part of that deal, as Yahoo! has owned it since 2005.


And now I’m worried about Flickr’s future. With the exception of a refreshed UI in 2013 and some new features and giving all users 1 TB of storage in 2015, Yahoo! has largely left the site alone. Meanwhile, innovation on the rest of the Web continued at breakneck pace, and other photo sites have overtaken Flickr in usefulness and popularity.

I’m an unabashed Flickr fan and for years have cheered it from the sidelines, but even I have to admit Yahoo!s inaction has left Flickr in a challenging competitive position. Even before the acquisition, Flickreenos everywhere were concerned for the site’s future.

And now here comes a new owner, and who knows what they’ll end up doing with their floundering photo-sharing site.

Here’s why I care so much. It’s not altruism or fanboy love. It’s that I use Flickr to host most of the photographs I share on this blog.

If Flickr goes away, photographs disappear here. Nine and half years worth of photographs.

It would be a daunting, enormous job to fix that.

My Flickr photostream today

Yes, I’m wringing my hands. Yes, it’s premature; Verizon has kept mum about its plans for Yahoo! and there’s currently no indication that they’ll change anything.

But I think I’m entitled to a little handwringing, because a project to restore missing photos to the nearly 1,500 posts here — oy, I don’t know how I would ever make time for that. I’d consider just leaving them be except that many of my old posts rank high on searches, and I want them to continue to be everything they have been.

Cross your fingers for me that Flickr has a long life ahead of it.

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20 responses to “Dear Verizon: Now that you’re buying Yahoo!, please don’t shut down Flickr”

  1. zorkiphoto Avatar

    Amen to that, says this atheist from across the pond! Nearly a decade for me – and thousands of pics. I don’t know where I’d start!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Wow, I know my preaching is connecting when I get an amen from the atheists! Testify, brother! :-)

  2. nobbyknipst Avatar

    Don’t know where to go with my more than 4000 public and even more private photos without flickr! Flickr often sucks – but without photographie doesn’t work ;-) But I don’t believe, that “our” fotocommunity ends! Flickr has indicated about 5000 uploads per minute and nearly 77 million unique users. According to search engine Alexa Flickr it one of the 50 most frequented sites on the Internet. If Verizon does not want it, we Photographers buy flickr ourselfs ;-)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Given that I make software for a living, perhaps I’m a little more forgiving of Flickr’s limitations, because I understand how such limitations end up in software. Here’s hoping that Flickr’s ongoing heavy usage is enough for Verizon to at least leave it in place.

  3. sobershutter Avatar

    If you are looking for goodness and mercy from Verizon, remember Dante, “abandon all hope, ye who enter here”.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, only way it could be any worse is if it were AT&T that bought Yahoo!. Now that’s one big callous company.

  4. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    I worry along with you Jim. I appreciate the utility of Flickr and enjoy the Flickr community. Given that Verizon is far more profit-driven and bottom line oriented than Yahoo, we’d be fooling ourselves to think the site will remain as is.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      yeah. I’m wondering if I need to start transitioning away from Flickr now just as a hedge about what might come, even if it’s in the future a ways.

  5. pesoto74 Avatar

    I started backing away from Flickr years ago when Yahoo took over. They just seemed like a company that is good at killing the golden goose. I hope it hangs on in some form because I know a lot of people depend on it. Flickr sure was fun in its early days.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I came to Flickr in 2006, after the acquisition, so I don’t know what kind of fun it was. I know it was and is a great place to dump anything I might one day want to share somewhere on the Internet. It has been great for that. It has also incidentally introduced me to many people around the world I’ve enjoyed coming to know through their work and their comments on my work.

  6. Bill Bussell Avatar
    Bill Bussell

    I started to pay for a pro account, and continually get the annual charge. I doubt they would turn away money. So, my fingers are crossed that Verizon leaves flickr alone. I recently switched from Sprint to Verizon mobile service because Verizon seems to have better coverage. Don’t make me irritated, Verizon. :-)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wonder if the Pro fee even pays for itself. It’s always felt like a nuisance fee to me.

  7. hmunro Avatar

    Apparently I *have* been living under a rock (or maybe rendered insensate by the train wreck that is this presidential race). But I’m hopeful that Verizon will have the good sense to not only hang onto Flickr, but perhaps even throw it a bit of funding. (A girl can dream, right?)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Props on slipping “insensate” into a comment! I don’t have a lot of hope Verizon will invest in Flickr. My best hope is that they just leave it alone.

  8. kuyaka Avatar

    I feel your anxiety. When Yahoo acquired Musicmatch, one of my favorite music players and music library managers, it got dumped. Hopefully Verizon is smarter than that. My premonition is that Flickr will get integrated into Verizon’s cloud storage.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Here’s hoping Verizon has some smarts.

  9. bob Dungan Avatar

    I was wondering how long it would take before people started worrying about Flickr being changed by Verizon. Didn’t take long.

    I post most of my film pictures on Flickr to be part of the film community. I also have an account with Ipernity and Smugmug, under the theory you should never put all your eggs or pictures in one basket..

    Here’s what I am currently doing. After editing a group of pictures I post the ones I want people to see on Smugmug (Flickr for film) and then post all the pictures including the bad ones in a private folder in Smugmug and on Ipernity. That way I have all the pictures preserved in two locations. I then delete all the bad pictures from my computer. If I am going to make a book I use the remaining pictures for the book. After the book is completed I delete all but the very best from my computer to make space for more. I was going to start posting all pictures in a private folder on Flickr but may wait to see what changes are made by Verizon.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      When trying to attract views on the Internet, you have to wring your hands over something while it’s in peoples’ minds!

      I have enabled automatic upload on Flickr and use it as a way to back up my .jpgs. It’s not bad. The automatically uploaded files are all private by default.

      I believe it may be time to explore using one of the other sites, too. I wonder if any others have a way for uploading out of Lightroom, like Flickr does.

  10. Pieter Walkman Avatar

    Don’t shut it down .. I have a life on flickr ..

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, same here. So far so good though – nothing has changed.

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