SmugMug buys Flickr and hope is restored to the internet

Me, writing about Flickr in 2004:

So far, Flickr rocks. It’s still officially in beta, and things change/improve almost daily. The site is a great combination of easy to use and geek-friendly. The developers are focused on all the right things. There seems to be a core set of ideals that touch on things like standards-compliance, ease of use, extensibility, accessibility and other goodies.

And again, a few months later:

The community features are a great byproduct of the site’s main goal, photo sharing. And they don’t get in your way if you don’t care.

The APIs and RSS everywhere. I’m writing a gallery and can think of a half-dozen cool things to do with it. Flickr is a platform. That fact alone will give them the edge. I bet we’ll see a cottage industry spring up of folks creating Flickr-based apps

I’ve been a Flickr user since Caterina Fake still had time to comment on my photos.

In a perfect world, Instagram would not exist. Flickr would still be the go-to place for posting, organizing, and talking about photos. Flickr is better than Instagram at everything around photo sharing. Everything except the active user counts, I guess.

Yahoo botched such a great opportunity, it’s maddening.

But, here we’ve been for nearly a decade. Last year, Maciej Cegłowski had a great thought about Flickr:

If you could have Flickr back the way it used to be and run competently, everybody would be on there right now. I think it would be wonderful if the old Flickr crew could get the site back and run it the way they wanted to.

My comment then was “Seeing Flickr back in caring, competent hands would be the ideal outcome.”

And out of seemingly nowhere, SmugMug comes along and buys Flickr1. I’ve been a SmugMug user for nearly as long as I’ve used Flickr. They’ve always struck me as a company that cared about the user first, profit second. This is why the announcement yesterday has me so giddy. SmugMug seems like our best chance at the “caring, competent hands” I’d been hoping for. I believe Don MacAskill to be smart, patient, and a photographer at heart.

I dare not guess where the SmugMug purchase of Flickr will lead, but I’m unreasonably happy about it. Hopeful, even.

  1. I’d link to the SmugMug announcement page but it’s a horrible, overwrought, janky mess of a page. This is the only discouraging thing about the whole thing so far. ↩︎