Flickr, the pioneering image-sharing website, has been sold to SmugMug an independent subscription-based photo sharing service.The financial terms of the deal have not been revealed. Flickr was one of the web’s most popular platform in the noughties was both an image hosting platform and sort of a proto-social media (think Instagram but without the weird filters) which was owned by Yahoo since 2005. Flickr has served as a home for everything from portfolios of professional photographers to amateur family albums.

Flickr was founded in 2004 by Vancouver-based Ludicorp Research and Development, and sold to Yahoo a year later, in March 2005, for a reported sum of around $35 million. Then, as Yahoo continued to bleed, the company was bought by telecommunication company Verizon in 2017. The new owner put Flickr and some other brands under a subsidiary called Oath. The sale is being seen as the beginning of Yahoo’s breakup under Verizon.

“After nearly 14 years at Yahoo and Oath, we’re moving to a smaller, more photography-focused family, which we think will be great for Flickr and for you,” Flickr said. Flickr will join SmugMug on May 25. The two platforms will continue to exist separately as of now, said SmugMug. The news owners also said that there are no plans at present to turn Flickr into a paid service, like SmugMug. Flick Pro, Flickr’s existing subscription service will continue as it is.

What will change for Flickr users, however, are the terms of privacy. Users have a month’s time to accept new terms or opt out of the platform. If they do neither, their Flickr account will transition from Yahoo’s terms of service to SmugMug’s. In addition to this, Flickr will migrate to SmugMug’s technology infrastructure (we are assuming this means servers) and users’ photographs will be a part of this shift. The URLs will remain the same as before, and the account holder will be able to access his/her pictures in the same manner.

“SmugMug and Flickr represent the world’s most influential community of photographers, and there is strength in numbers. We want to provide photographers with both inspiration and the tools they need to tell their stories. We want to bring excitement and energy to inspire more photographers to share their perspective,” SmugMug said in a post.

Siladitya adds: This change in ownership might be the best thing that can happen to Flickr at the moment, and the platform’s users seem excited as well. Yahoo, by most accounts, was a terrible owner that nearly killed off Flickr. In the era of Instagram and Facebook, it is hard to fathom how popular a photo sharing service like Flickr was. So, while its unlikely that the service will ever reach that same level of popularity and influence, an owner whose business is built around photographs is likely to make things better.

Photo sharing networks

While both Instagram and Facebook are relatively newer to the game as compared to SmugMug and Flickr, they are far more popular. Instagram reported 800 million users last year, of which it claimed 500 million were daily active users. Snapchat, on the other hand had 173 million daily active users. The two social networks are both mobile-first and put emphasis on time-bound photo sharing via stories, and have developed in-app tools to enhance users’ pictures.