25 December 2019

Flickr Blog: “The world’s most-beloved, money-losing business needs your help”

Now Flickr needs your help. It’s still losing money. Hundreds of thousands of you stepped up and joined Flickr Pro, for which we are eternally grateful. As a result, it’s losing a lot less money than it was. But it’s not yet making enough.

We need more Flickr Pro members if we want to keep the Flickr dream alive.

We didn’t buy Flickr because we thought it was a cash cow. Unlike platforms like Facebook, we also didn’t buy it to invade your privacy and sell your data. We bought it because we love photographers, we love photography, and we believe Flickr deserves not only to live on but thrive. We think the world agrees; and we think the Flickr community does, too. But we cannot continue to operate it at a loss as we’ve been doing.

Flickr is the world’s largest photographer-focused community. It’s the world’s best way to find great photography and connect with amazing photographers. Flickr hosts some of the world’s most iconic, most priceless photos, freely available to the entire world. This community is home to more than 100 million accounts and tens of billions of photos. It serves billions of photos every single day. It’s huge. It’s a priceless treasure for the whole world. And it costs money to operate. Lots of money.

Don MacAskill

Hard to imagine a worse business strategy than alienating both your free users (by restricting features and threatening to delete their photos down to the arbitrary 1000 photo limit) and your Pro users (by immediately doubling the cost of the subscription and offering basically no new features in return). And yet, here we are, with the CEO doubling down on the same losing game.

Less than 1% of Flickr members pay for Flickr Pro. We don’t think that’s fair, and it makes improving Flickr more difficult, so we’re working hard to change that ratio, including sending this letter. If we had 1% membership in Flickr Pro, Flickr would be safe for the forseeable future, likely forever. It would be making enough revenue that we could invest in all the new and improved features listed on this thread. We hope we’ll get there, but we need your help. That’s what the letter was all about, getting the community’s help, not doom & gloom.


The fact that less than 1% of members are Pro users is certainly interesting. And as CEO, this Don fellow should ask himself Why that is. Instead of pleading with users to join Pro, maybe consider the reasons they don’t, maybe realize that Flickr is not in fact a competitive product, hasn’t been for a long time and nothing you did as CEO in the past year and a half made it more compelling – I would say quite the opposite!

Many constantly complain that Yahoo! spoiled Flicker offering a free terabyte of storage, but at the time, before Google Photos, Adobe Cloud, Amazon, it was a competitive advantage that drew more people to the site. I’m not saying that offer was sustainable, but Flickr could experiment with different tiers of price and storage, or restricting photo resolution for a lower-priced subscription. I for one never uploaded any photo file larger than eight megapixels, because it was more than enough for web sharing, and faster to upload than the original resolution. To go forward, you need a vision and a plan – you can’t rescue a business with desperate pleas for help.

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