Happy to see this, hope for expanding option to a somewhat stagnant Flickr.
Happy to see this, hope for expanding option to a somewhat stagnant Flickr.
I wonder who benefits from this more, Flickr or SmugMug?
Assuming Flickr is a company that's break-even from a financial perspective why would SmugMug toss so much capital into investing into flickr. Certainly not for altruism?
It feels unlikely that a Flickr user, many on a free account would scale up to a Smuggy subscription... but perhaps it would be to offer Print sales as an option to existing flickr users? But with print in general a stagnating market... what's the long term plan? Is there an intent to get into stocks like 500px - an already oversaturated market, or are they just looking to deepen community? If so are they trying to edge onto Instagram territory?
As exciting as it FEELS, the mechanics of it leaves me feeling more worried than excited if I were to be completely honest.
Would love to hear some alternative positive perspectives on how this will benefit SmugMug from a corporate growth standpoint.
I really hope they aim to bring back to life the Flickr photo community, moving in also photographers pissed off by 500px & Co..and probably they expect to get more subscriptions with Flickr+SmugMug bundles, that actually is not a bad idea considering the top quality of SmugMug service!
The news broke when I was in the Tribeca film festival with my phone on do not disturb. Turns out I was in the film and then the cast & crew stayed until the wee hours, so I didn't get to read anything about the Flickr acquisition until this morning.
My inboxes are insane right now because I was cofounder of SmugMug and there for 14 years, yet I have another Tribeca appearance I have to rush off to. Fortunately, everything is amazingly positive except the Gizmodo article, which was pretty funny.
It's pretty remarkable that it has come to this when in the beginning, virtually everyone told us we wouldn't be able to charge for subscriptions, the only real business model was free. Even Chris Anderson wrote a book about that.
If the service adds value, people will pay or it.
So offering flickr users a discounted SmugMug site?
I think that'll be a challenging uphill battle as websites are less and less popular as instagram gains steam.
Nobody that I meet ever says "show me your website!" they say: what's your handle on Instagram, let me follow you.
Not saying that websites aren't valuable, just saying that the value proposition is a little of a harder sell.
I think SmugMug and flickr users are going to benefit big time. What a news after long time :D
Yes challenging, but probably a side effect too, not the real aim. I think the real challenge nowadays is to create a real meritocratic community where people are eager to share their stuffs. (Think about how it was 500px and how it is now).. if you have a working algorithm, you can make money with it..
Agree on the value of Instagram, but how many companies really check if you have an organic engagement or just the followers number and they accept it consciously even if they are bought? Instagram is not a community, is a showcase platform. Another concern is how long it will last..Yesterday was Facebook, today is Instagram but tomorrow for sure something else..I just hope that Flickr will be that tomorrow 🤞
"Hoping that tomorrow" it's Flickr is what I'm particularly skeptical and worried about.
From the smuggy press releases it sounds like they also are not too sure what the future holds and that worries me :(
If you're making a multimillion dollar investment, should there not be a little more concrete of a plan?
Not trying to bash on smuggy. On the contrary, I hope they kill it - but I just don't see the full picture.
“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.
How often when you go into a project do you have a fully formed final idea of exactly what the end product will be? On day 1(ish)?
I don’t think this is any different. Don doesn’t know exactly what the “final” product will be in 3 months, a year, a decade... he’s going into this with open eyes and ears. What he (we) hear from the community, find in the details, learn from the team that has been closest to Flickr all these years... all of that will influence where it goes and what is done.
He’s the visionary/creative side of the company leadership, just as you’re the visionary/creative in your own work. I kinda picture him right now in the same position I think you were in sitting in an empty warehouse with a ton of recycling and a vision of models with mermaid tails. :)
Don has shared a very high level vision statement a few times, it’s in the faq on the site. How close is it in specificity to what you wanted to accomplish with that photo shoot?
In the end, you lead your team to create beautiful images with a powerful message. I don’t know how long it will take, but I trust Don to lead the combined teams to improve and grow the social photographic platform that Flickr seems to want to be, just as we have grown the beautiful and private home for your stories that is SmugMug, and the powerful commerce platform that is SmugMug’s professional plan set.
(Disclaimers in case it’s not obvious to everyone: 1. I love Ben VonWong’s work, not questioning his work, just drawing a parallel to what I suspect is his process in an attempt to calm the anxiety before it blows up here like it has in some other venues. 2. I’m the tech lead for SmugMug’s commerce team. 3. I don’t know much that isn’t public at this point about the situation.)
It's funny, I didn't have anything to do with the Flickr acquisition and found out about it from a friend who pointed me to the USA Today article. It was all Don. But it sprinkled fairy dust on me here at Tribeca as people said admiringly, "congratulations!" One exec from Google said she tried to buy Flickr on 3 separate occasions.
I don't know if this is a coincidence, but Caterina Fake, the cofounder of Flickr and somone I have long admired, did a great interview with Reid Hoffman just before the announcement where she said:
These products have come to be called ‘social media,’ but that’s not what Flickr was. Flickr was an online community. The reason they started calling it social media is because you can sell media. You can sell column inches, you can sell broadcast hours, you can advertise against it. But Flickr was not social media. Flickr was an online community. The people there were not marketing; they were having conversations. They were known to each other, and they were being part of the community. And so, that is the spirit under which Flickr had been conceived.
I don't know any details about purchase price, how Flickr is doing, tech, team, etc., but I did watch Reddit rise from the dead when the founders returned a couple years ago. I saw that Caterina tweeted to Don offering help with Flickr, so who knows? It's crazy but after that interview and before I heard about the Flickr acquisition, I thought about reaching out to Caterina to help with Cake.
"open eyes and ears". This.
Based on the stories I've heard from Chris, SmugMug understands, and loves community. The heart of Flickr is the community. The strategy can be sorted out later. How often can a service with 75MM users be acquired? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
130MM visitors per month according to Similarweb.com. That's insane. This is an amazing opportunity for SmugMug. Very excited for SM.
For a family owned company to pull this off is incredible. It's so the opposite of the Silicon Valley, private equity stories we hear about endlessly. I love it.
I'm data-free so I'm guessing here, but I suspect this chart is one factor in Verizon's decision to part with it. If SmugMug is able to send the trend the other way, think of the upside tho.
What do you think it will take to re-engage Flickr users? and/or what else will it take to revive it into a vibrant community?
Keeping the free option is going to be telling of the direction. Many may fall over to the pay subscription once they see the value. The value is the next step, what does this mean for current smuggy users, what do they see or benefit from? Can be a big culture shift taking on this many users.
Heh appreciate the time you took to make the analogy to my career! An interesting through experiment.
To answer your question though, when I buy a plane ticket I usually have a fairly clear idea of what I want to achieve, just not how I want to achieve it - which as you clearly pointed out is no different than this situation.
The part I'm seeking clarity on is the business model - so, in my case, the business model has always been: Make something crazy that goes viral no mater what... so that the companies that want to hire me can find me. That's how I make a living. When the day comes where I am unable to create projects that bring in my next projects - that's when my career dies.
It's actually the crossroads I find myself at right this moment as the constant algorithmic changes to social have greatly impacted my ability to create visible content - and actually one of the reasons I'm starting to shift out of social.
So I guess I totally understand the mission and the community and all that... the part that worries me is the business opportunity side of thing. The 1x return. 5x, 10x
Maybe I've just been in the valley for too long
"It's actually the crossroads I find myself at right this moment as the constant algorithmic changes to social have greatly impacted my ability to create visible content - and actually one of the reasons I'm starting to shift out of social."
Interesting point. I think content creators including digital publishers are at the same crossroads. I've seen reports of some sites just shutting down. One had 2 million followers or something like that. Everything had to be at scale to be impressive. Maybe we're moving past vanity metrics and into an age of true engagement.
I suppose it ties back into community and real connections and engagement. 50,000 loyal and loving fans is probably worth more then 2MM followers on social. Is Flickr the kind of place someone like yourself can develop a loyal following?
Will something going viral actually be more valuable then ever in the age of it being more difficult to achieve?
I don’t have a good sense of what to do. That isn’t an opinion that it can’t be turned around, because Don or the Flickr team may know exactly what to do.
I think if it were me, I’d take the approach Steve took at Apple: concentrate first on the finances and once they’re in good shape figure out growth. My biggest blind spot is I don’t know how much ad revenue they have and how to sell those ads.
Flickr's group discussions use a classic three-level structure, group / topic / reply. This structure goes back literally decades, to Picospan in 1983 and even Plato Notesfiles in 1973. It facilitates conversation without overwhelming people. It's a keeper. However, Flickr's current UI for the discussions is, well, meh. This is too bad. For many people, group discussions are the heart of Flickr. For them it's not so much a photo sharing site as a social network where most of the users happen to be photographers. They deserve a discussion system that is excellent, not meh.
Both those guys get it. It’s about community. It’s about storytelling.
Yeah, that was pretty good. I've always like CNET's approach to tech.
The follow up question is what's the upside on the flickr acquisition.
Will flickr now (a) try and convert users to smugmug and what % can they hope for over time or (b) introduce a whole new set of subscriptions on flickr directly?
As a non-user of both what would be the advantage of migrating from flickr to sm?
As a user of both Flickr and SmugMug (and, full disclosure, a former SmugMug employee), I think the two sites have different but complementary strengths. I don't think the goal should be (or is) to migrate Flickr users to SmugMug. I think these are two services that can coexist and work well together.
Flickr is more of a casual social place to share your photos and see photos by other people. It's the closest thing we had to Instagram before there was an Instragram, and I think casual social photosharing is still what Flickr is best at.
Except for the photos themselves, everyone's Flickr photostreams, albums, etc. look the same. They all share a consistent sitewide design that looks good and works well, but that you can't customize. This is where SmugMug comes in.
SmugMug is completely customizable. You have full control over what pages are on your SmugMug site, what functionality those pages have, and how they look. You can use pre-built templates to get functionality similar to Flickr, but you can also fully customize SmugMug to be the homepage for your photography business, complete with a portfolio, a shopping cart where people can buy prints and digital downloads, password-protected pages for your clients to review photo shoots, etc.
In other words, Flickr is a great place for casual social photosharing, and SmugMug is a great place for photographers to really showcase their best work, or even to run their photography business. Two great tastes that taste great together. 🙂