leaving flickr

Photowalking, originally uploaded by George.

George Oates (who I know some and whose work I like tremendously) was laid off in the latest round at Yahoo. Also, many extremely talented people from Brickhouse (Samantha Tripodi, Chis Martin, Jeannie Yang, Ben Ward, Ken Thornhill, Premshree Pillai, and Kevin Thornback, none of whom I knew well, I just saw and was awed by their work). Like Tom Coates (“Still reeling from the last few weeks”), I am still trying to get my head around the entire thing. I still don’t understand how these people got cut. I can’t imagine Flickr without a key part of its DNA. I have respect for Kakul, Heather, and the rest of the crew, but I think this shows that the decision making there has gone off the rails. I started using Flickr in 2005, and have loved it and the culture that has developed around it. But, I am going to move my photos off Flickr and find a new home for them, with many regrets.

In the larger context of Yahoo, it is doing yet more damage to itself. It simply won’t survive as a commodity site or development platform alone. Mail, a front page, and news (all indications are that every other part of the company is flat or declining) are not enough to sustain the company at its current size, and focusing on advertising innovation while the entire structure goes through a recession seems wildly off-base. What they should do is do what other smart people did during the last bust: invent something really good. That’s when people started Flickr, and Google, and Blogger, and on and on. Despite many assets and a lot of value, Yahoo’s management would do better to improve the company’s prospects by laying themselves off.

update: a couple of people have said that they don’t understand the ‘protest’ I’m making; I should have been clearer. It’s not a protest at all, Flickr is still a great thing and the people there are good, etc. I’m quitting it just because I had more of an emotional relationship with it than a practical one, and that’s been changed. It’s a purely personal thing, left over from the time when sites like Flickr were labors of love, built mostly from enthusiasm. That’s rare these days, but that’s why I do what I do, through booms and busts.

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