Seems appropriate to link back to an episode of Random 60 discussing Flickr. Remember, this was three years ago. “The woman CEO” that I mention in the episode is not the current CEO Marisa Mayer but Carol Bartz. There have been five CEOs at Yahoo! since I recorded this episode!
Mayer’s rule: If a new product can’t be shipped in six months, and if it doesn’t have a realistic shot of reaching 100 million users or generate $100 million toward the company’s top line, then Yahoo will no longer bother.
I don’t know if I agree with her rules but I really, really like that she has some.
(This is the longest title to a post on my site. I like the rules that much.)
Marissa Mayer held a company-wide meeting today at Yahoo. The purpose of the meeting was stated, in a memo to the company, as being “radically transparent” about the plans to turn Yahoo around.
It turns out much of the meeting was rather nebulous and more broad than specific or transparent. Perhaps that is because Yahoo clearly has a leak directly into Kara Swisher’s CMS or perhaps because Mayer wants the Product leads to devise their own plans for their products based on the entire company vision – either way, the details we all hoped might be coming out today didn’t.
Of course, Swisher’s sources had their own opinions of what should have been (or perhaps they hoped would be) talked about. And those things were not discussed.
But, according to numerous sources, she’ll show off plans for a radically designed home page, with fewer ads and more open to apps and sharing; better email and search; and a doubling down on Yahoo’s most powerful properties.
So, perhaps the great sources Swisher has today will not be as good as the ones she’ll need tomorrow.
I’m OK with Mayer not giving up specific details today. I don’t think Yahoo is going to be course-corrected in only a few months time. But now is when the rubber truly hits the road. Mayer just stated what the company was, what it stands for, and what it needs to do to succeed. Will it do it? It will be exciting to watch.
The site that once had the best social tools, the most vibrant userbase, and toppest-notch storage is rapidly passing into the irrelevance of abandonment. Its once bustling community now feels like an exurban neighborhood rocked by a housing crisis. Yards gone to seed. Rusting bikes in the front yard. Tattered flags. At address, after address, after address, no one is home.
It is a case study of what can go wrong when a nimble, innovative startup gets gobbled up by a behemoth that doesn’t share its values. What happened to Flickr? The same thing that happened to so many other nimble, innovative startups who sold out for dollars and bandwidth: Yahoo.
Here’s how it all went bad.
Also worthy of quoting is the description of Flickr from this MetaFilter post in 2004:
Flickr is a new kind of social software application (in the tradition of Friendster or Orkut) – but, after making friends and forming groups, it actually gives you something to do! Created by a team led by Mefi’s own sylloge, Flickr is also a collaboration focused Flash-based application that allows you to share picture files with friends, comment on them and post them directly to your weblog. An exposed set of services is also leading to a host of interesting ideas.
I miss Flickr. Sort of the same way I miss Saturday morning cartoons. Fond memories of things I’ve enjoyed in the past do not equal the same memories if I tried to enjoy them today. Ever watch an episode of a cartoon you watched when you were a kid? Most of them are terrible.
Flickr was great. In 2004. And it continued to be great for a time even after their acquisition by Yahoo! But in order to continue to be great the service would have needed to keep up with the Internet’s ever-changing environment, technologies, and trends. This is difficult for any company to do whether they’ve been acquired or not. But it certainly seems like the chance of succeeding at that drops precipitously when a company is acquired.
It’s no secret that for many entrepreneurs, the exit is always the goal. It’s about the sellout before the first line of code is written. But for a select group, products are meant to be art. They are meant to literally change the world. And for those, selling out can be especially problematic.
This is where I see the problem. Why aren’t entrepreneurs (or, at least, more of them) seeking to build something awesome and valuable that could be around in 10 years? Something that may not win a $1B check but something that makes money, is valuable to its customers, and that you can be proud of. I don’t think Flickr fell into this trap – I genuinely believe that at the time Yahoo! seemed like an amazing fit for Flickr. But today the trend leans toward startups looking to sell more than looking to build valuable companies.
Flickr is still pretty wonderful. But it’s lovely in the same way a box of old photos you’ve stashed under the bed is. It’s an archive of nostalgia that you love dearly, on the rare occasion you stumble across it. You pull them out, and hold them up to the light, and remember a time when you were younger, and the Web was a more optimistic place, and it really was almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world.
And then you close the box.
And you click over to Facebook, to see what’s new.
What a shame.
Yahoo! has announced that Flickr now has built-in Snapfish support through its (still one of the best Web apps ever) Organize & Create tool. It is about time. I hope Flickr and Yahoo! bank some serious dough on this deal.
[viddler id-c77e0a5c h-357 w-420]
I’ve been a Flickr member since mid-summer 2004. I’ve been a Flickr Pro member for nearly as long. Yet, now that my Pro account has expired, I’m wondering if I will renew my subscription.
Why? I think Flickr is great. The Flickr team is fantastic. Nearly everything they build is superb. But with Yahoo! on the rocks (being the parent-company for Flickr now) I’m just not all that eager to fork over more money to a company that could, potentially, fall into some hard times this year.
What do you think I should do?
When I first found out that the entire Viddler team would be going to San Francisco, California for the Web 2.0 Expo – I wasn’t sure of what to expect from the Expo. Would it be a social (tshirt and jeans) or more a professional (suit and tie) type of conference? And really, it turned out to be a little bit of both.
The Web 2.0 Expo Floor
The expo floor was filled with companies of all types ranging from large companies like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to smaller more fun companies like Viddler, Zimki, and Piczo. Some people were being very professional and demonstrating some very high-level enterprise applications (which are typically found behind-the-scenes of more social software. ie. Analytics and monitoring systems for server grids). Others were demonstrating their next-generation web service that can take care of all your development needs from coding, to versioning, to deployment all in a social and collaborative way. Each had their pitch, each had something very interesting to offer, and each were trying to make their product/service stand out from the pack.
The sessions that I got to see (which weren’t many since I didn’t have a session pass so I had to sneak into any of the rooms by tossing Hershey Kisses on the floor in front of the badge-checker on the way in) were much more “professional” than the panels I got to see when I was at South by Southwest this year. This isn’t to say that those panels at SXSW were not done in a professional manner, but that the sessions at the Web 2.0 Expo were much less interactive and more a demonstration of some products/services/companies that stood out as doing good work in their various fields.
Running adjacent to the Web 2.0 Expo keynotes and sessions was Web2Open which is a *Camp style event that run in the main corridors on the second floor. Various presentations and discussions given by people that attended and participated in Web2Open were very good. “Minutes” were taken by various people and left on the walls so that if you came late to a particular discussion, you were able to quickly catch up and be part of the conversation. If you didn’t like where the discussion was going you were able to change the topic yourself by suggesting a topic, or – you could literally get up and go into another room where maybe the topic suited you a little better.
The idea of doing Open conferences like this is still very much in beta – and the process is being refined by the attendees each and every time one of these events goes on – but they are definitely much more attractive than any other event that I’ve been to. Simply being able to steer the conversation by simply raising your hand and asking a question lends itself very well to building value for those that attend.
Viddler had a massive push to finish Q&A and testing on the its latest version of the site and player and managed to fit in many hours of development in order to release version 2.0. There are still a few bugs being worked out as soon as the developers and managers get back home from this trip – but overall the release was a big success and was fairly well received. The roadmap for Viddler is still quite exciting and the entire team is looking forward to the next step. I’ll have some more information about this and will be asking for everyone’s feedback on some of our ideas shortly.
Viddler 2.0 Cake
We celebrated version 2.0 a little bit early with some champagne and cake. The entire team was staying in Saratoga at our President’s relative’s house. We were so well taken care of that none of us wanted to leave (freshly squeezed orange juice right off the tree every morning makes a man wanna stick around).
Meeting the entire team for the first time was awesome. Working remotely with our team is really great and is actually conducive to getting very good work accomplished without the added expense and overhead of having everyone move to one location and setting up the proper digs for such an effort. However, it was nice to finally spend some time together to get to know each other even better and fit a real personality to the people that I have the privilege of working with everyday.
The moment I got a feel for who was going to be at the Web 2 Expo; namely my friends from Citizen Agency, Ma.gnolia, etc. – I decided I really wanted to have a party with a few companies to help fit the bill to really pull off something nice. I mentioned this to Larry Halff and Chris Messina and I must say – they really took the ball and ran with it especially considering my inexperience in putting something like this together combined with the fact that I’m on the east coast far away from finding out about all of the venues that were available.
Tara (unknown last name) (aka Tara 2.0) came through in a very big way and secured our venue and setup everything we needed go pull off a successful event. Having an “event planner” is really key when you are trying to do one of these events with multiple companies and tons of logistics involved. If you are thinking of doing something like we did – I definitely recommend assigning one experienced person to get everything setup properly.
The party attendees
The party, in my opinion, was a huge success and it seemed like everyone had a really great time. People were lined up outside to get in, we were “at capacity” for the entire duration of the party, and people had to be escorted out of the gallery when the place closed. I had been to a few events at South by Southwest where people leaved early, the bar tab ran out quickly, or where generally not many people showed up. Such was not the scene for the Web 2 Party and we had a great time meeting everyone who came, shooting some video, and had some great discussions.
We’ve been talking about doing something in New York in the Fall so be sure to keep your ear to the ground. We don’t want to let all the west coast peeps have all the fun!
I know I’m speaking for the entire Viddler team when I say that we’d like to thank Citizen Agency for helping to coordinate the entire event, and thanks to Ma.gnolia, Scrapblog, JanRain, faberNovel, Facebook, Plasq, and WineLibraryTVfor helping us in throwing the best party during the Web 2.0 Expo. We hope you had as much fun as we all did.
Here is just a small collection of photos that I took over the course of the week. I didn’t have a lot of time to shoot many photos as I always seemed to be busy recording video, talking at our booth, chatting with friends or just generally preoccupied with other things. I recommend you look at the Viddler Group on Flickr for more photos (oh, if you have photos please put them in the Viddler group) and also watch the Viddler tag on Viddler to see any video that may pop up over the next few days from the Expo.
Photos taken while in California
Again I wish that I had more time to take more photos than I did but I’m thankful that friends like Chris Tingom were able to take a bunch of photos during our trip.
So the next time you hear that Viddler is coming to your town or throwing a party in your neighborhood – be sure to give us a shout and come out and drink some of our beerz…
[tags]web2expo, viddler, ma.gnolia, citizen agency, chris messina, tara hunt, larry halff, scrapblog, party, event, version2, california, saratoga, san francisco, santa clara, photos, flickr, google, yahoo, microsoft, d. keith robinson, dustin diaz, jina bolton, harry snodgrass, chris tingom, food, oranges, faberlove, facebook, scrapblog, hatomic, microformats, zimki[/tags]
I guess some people are seeing this as a “big brother” type move or something but I just don’t see what all the fuss is about. Flickr, or more specifically Ludicorp, was bought by Yahoo!. If you do not want Yahoo! to have your information, you should have left Flickr the day you heard that (and even then it’d have been too late). Why do people care that Yahoo! has their information? Are they really that naive to think that Yahoo! didn’t already have it?
I kind of have more to say about this but I’m deciding to simply state that I do not agree with the backlashers. I think we can all let this issue die now and if you are one of the people that does not like this move – I suggest you close your Flickr account.
[tags]flickr, yahoo!, ludicorp, login, anil dash, john gruber, daring fireball[/tags]