SmugMug Acquires Flickr, Promises to Keep Community Alive

The logo of the Flickr website is displayed on a tablet on January 2, 2014 in Paris.  (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images)

Flickr, the image- and video-hosting site that created an online community long before apps like Instagram and Snapchat, has been acquired by rival service SmugMug. The new owners informed users Monday that all of Flickr's user data will move to SmugMug's servers on May 25, but that Flickr will remain a "standalone community."

SmugMug announced the purchase last week, with CEO Don MacAskill telling USA Today that his company is focused on reviving the site after years of neglect.

"Flickr has survived through thick and thin and is core to the entire fabric of the internet,” MacAskill told USA Today.

Launched in 2004 by the Vancouver-based company Ludicorp and acquired by Yahoo the following year, Flickr was a pioneer in social media and photo-sharing. By 2013, it boasted an estimated 87 million Flickr users.

But recent years saw the site languish, as Yahoo struggled to stay afloat amidst declining revenues. Last year, Verizon bought Yahoo for $4.5 billion and placed it under its subsidiary Oath, which has been selling properties like Flickr and Polyvore, an e-commerce company bought by Yahoo while under the leadership of CEO Marissa Mayer.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer speaks during an announcement that Yahoo acquired the Tumblr blogging site in order to upgrade its Flickr site, in New York, May 20, 2013. Yahoo announced a $1.1 billion deal for blogging site Tumblr aiming to help Yahoo to tap into the younger, active online user base at Tumblr.
Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer speaks during an announcement that Yahoo acquired the Tumblr blogging site in order to upgrade its Flickr site, in New York, May 20, 2013. Yahoo announced a $1.1 billion deal for blogging site Tumblr aiming to help Yahoo to tap into the younger, active online user base at Tumblr. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

Flickr sent an email announcing the move of its users' data Monday morning, and assuring that nothing will change for Flickr's users, which number at around 75 million currently.

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"We think you are going to love Flickr under SmugMug ownership, but you can choose to not have your Flickr account and data transferred to SmugMug," the email read. "If you want to keep your Flickr account and data from being transferred, you must go to your Flickr account to download the photos and videos you want to keep, then delete your account from your Account Settings by May 25, 2018."

MacAskill founded SmugMug with his father Chris in their Mountain View home in 2002. In the years since, without outside investors, they've grown their photo-sharing and printing business into a service with hundreds of thousands of users in five different countries. MacAskill says he's also been a longtime fan of Flickr, and that any proposed ideas for the service will first be put before the Flickr community.

"It sounds silly for the CEO not to totally know what he’s going to do, but we haven’t built SmugMug on a master plan either. We try to listen to our customers, and when enough of them ask for something that’s important to them or to the community, we go and build it,” MacAskill told USA Today.

For more details on SmugMug's acquisition of Flickr and what it means to users, visit Flickr's FAQ and watch the video below.

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