Mat Honan wrote a pretty incredible article yesterday on Yahoo’s floundering with Flickr over at Gizmodo:
“By the time we were looking at Flickr, Yahoo was getting the shit kicked out of it by Google. The race was on to find other areas of search where we could build a commanding lead,” says one high ranking Yahoo executive familiar with the deal.
Flickr offered a way to do that. Because Flickr photos were tagged and labeled and categorized so efficiently by users, they were highly searchable.
“That is the reason we bought Flickr—not the community. We didn’t give a shit about that. The theory behind buying Flickr was not to increase social connections, it was to monetize the image index. It was totally not about social communities or social networking. It was certainly nothing to do with the users.”
And that was the problem. At the time, the Web was rapidly becoming more social, and Flickr was at the forefront of that movement. It was all about groups and comments and identifying people as contacts, friends or family. To Yahoo, it was just a fucking database.
I rarely associate Nick Denton’s Gizmodo these days with in-depth sound, writing and reporting. But wow, they really rose the bar on this one. Perhaps I should give them another chance.