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Flickr Hit Hard by Yahoo Layoffs

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Updated: Yahoo (s YHOO) layoffs have started and they seem to have hit the Flickr team. Many engineers from the service have been either laid off or are leaving on their own. Rev Dan Catt, Ashot Petrosian and Neil Kandalgaonkar were amongst those who tweeted about their exits. Catt, for instance, is moving back to UK. I am told Cal Henderson, Flickr Architect — a rock star developer — has also left, though I have not been able to confirm that. His name is missing from Flickr’s About page , but I don’t want to jump to conclusions. [digg=]

I dropped Henderson an email to confirm. He emailed back this morning. “I have left Flickr/Yahoo. I don’t have any plans yet, besides playing lots of video games and enjoying the san francisco summer,” he wrote back. Kara Swisher says he’s is working with Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr, on a new stealthy startup.

Meanwhile check out his presentation about scalable web architectures. Flickr was spared from cuts for a long time but in recent months has been slowly trimming its staff. Frankly, cutting the Flickr team is a bit of a head-scratcher: That group is one of the few pockets of future-thinking tinkerers at Yahoo, especially when it comes to building new media experiences around “social objects” such as photos.

Update#2: We’re hearing that further changes at Yahoo’s Flickr are going to be announced shortly, including exits of some senior/director-level people.

66 Responses to “Flickr Hit Hard by Yahoo Layoffs”

  1. therealizzy

    I aggree with most of you. Flickr is the only thing I have given money to Yahoo for. It would be retarded if they ever have to can the most popular photo site on the internet

  2. So, lets see…

    Hundreds of millions of photos, tons of bandwidth, millions of users, and a very small percentage of people paying for pro memberships (including me). Anyone with half a brain knows that it would not even cover costs of bandwidth not to mention salaries. And ads don’t sell well beside photo or video content.

    They’ve gotta reduce costs so that they can break even. Thats all what this is about.

    The engineers did their job in designing a great service. Now it can pretty much run with a minimal staff, and throw resources at it when it needs some upgrades or whatever.

  3. bridgetguyer

    Omg that is horrible i dont think usa can live much longer with everyone getting laid off ppl will grow crazy why do u think there are so many ppl killed now

  4. No loss to most of the Flickr cuts, all I ever saw them do was play ping pong and bitch about other Yahoo departments, Good riddance. Yahoo needs to cut the fat which is just what they are doing. I think it’s a good move.

  5. I just to happened to come across this article via Facebook and I’m not knowledgeable enough about Yahoo’s financial matters to comment thoroughly on all matters pertaining to this issue, but I can offer commentary from the perspective of a Yahoo small business customer and former user of most of their other services.

    Firstly, it’s ridiculous that a company who has consistently had the number one site online for many years finds itself in financial distress at all. Their consumer base and reach is huge and loyal and I’d like to think that even I could do a better job at monetizing that.

    Now while my payments for Yahoo’s services probably haven’t been enough to pay for the salary of a single employee for a month, they are significant to me and other Yahoo customers and together they add up.

    I’ve been a user of Yahoo’s services for as long as I can remember and I’ve been a small business customer since 2004. There was a time when I was a huge fan and advocate for Yahoo but all that has changed and not because of Google or anyone else. It’s because of Yahoo’s lack of knowledge (or willingness) on how to take care of loyal customers.

    It began with their Site Builder software. I created 3 web sites using it. One of them being a rather large one. After a few years of building my sites, I became more aware of web standards and accessibility issues. I’m legally blind and I found that some features on my own sites were not even accessible to me because of the terrible coding that Yahoo’s Site Builder produces.
    I had contacted Yahoo about this and the reply that I got was that it would be too costly to rewrite the Site Builder software so I was stuck and still am with rotten coding that doesn’t validate and prevents the site from being fully accessible to persons with disabilities.
    ( Home page HTML 68 errors
    CSS 157 errors
    So now I am rewriting my sites by hand line by line, page by page.
    HTML Passed
    CSS No Error Found
    That’s one issue but to sum that up, it would be far more costly for Yahoo to be faced with a class action law suit (like Target faced) then to rewrite its software.

    Now the final nail has been that Yahoo wants to charge me $46+ to simply renew my domain name when everyone else on the Internet is charging under $10 and hosting is even worse. I was paying $12+ per month for each of my sites. Now all of my sites (6 of them) are hosted by DreamHost under a single account for just $10.95 per month.

    I have 2 other domains to transfer away from Yahoo (before I end up paying over $100 just to renew them) and then I’m through with Yahoo’s fee based services.
    Yahoo won’t even provide POP mail without charging for it when Google and Microsoft are offering it for free. Yahoo is way out of touch and just a mess.

    I now use Google’s services for nearly everything that I once used Yahoo’s for.

    I really feel for those being laid off. It’s just terrible and inexcusable but I’m sure that there are many companies that will welcome Yahoo’s ex-employees with open arms. Good luck to you all.

      • For me, picasa isn’t giving me what I want when it comes to organization online. The program itself is beautifully done, but what i love about flickr is when I can set a collection to be “2009”, and in that have seperate dates for past events. + its unlimited webstorage! google’s online system has to pick it up if they are going to win my heart.

  6. inthewoods

    “That group is one of the few pockets of future-thinking tinkerers at Yahoo, especially when it comes to building new media experiences around “social objects” such as photos.”

    And what new features or excitement have these future thinkers produced over at flickr? I haven’t seen much movement there.

  7. Adam Jackson

    So weird. I met Cal back in August / September and had no clue he was at Flickr. He and I talked OAuth for about an hour and I found him to be nothing short of a badass at web technologies and a really down to earth guy.

    Cal, best of luck!

    • tillman

      So was altavista, alltheweb, aol, netscape etc. The list of very hot properties that got buried is a long one. Don’t bet on anything.

  8. yahooads

    flickr is losing money. Fees collected are small percentage to the cost (that’s why most people signed up for Pro account). The property doesn’t have a lot of ads space, and advertisers’ demand.

  9. SunnyvaleInsider

    Whether Flickr is in the black or the red is not the right question to ask. Google, Microsoft, Oracle, etc all have profit margins of over 20%. Yahoo’s profit margin is closer to 1%. Any business that isn’t in line with industry standard profit margins will need to be changed so that it does deliver industry standard profit margins. Otherwise the stock market will continue to punish YHOO stock.

  10. Jonathan Marks

    I use Flickr as a back-up, so if Flickr did go under it is not the photos I worry about, its the hours of work put into the metadata. creating context around the content. I asked Catherina Fake, flickr co-founder what was in place for this scenario but never got a clear answer.

    • This is at the heart of the DataPortability “Graceful Exit” question: when our relationship comes to an end, How does a service treat me, my information assets, my social graph, and the metadata constructed by my behavior?

      Downloading your photos is clearly not enough. We’ll want real and practical notice. We’ll want the ability to easily, cheaply, and quickly migrate to other services and to my personal places (pc, mobile, cloud storage). We’ll want to keep the structures that organize our work, like tags, sets, pools, groups. We’ll want to preserve social artifacts: comments by others on our photos, our comments on others’ photos, our social participation in groups, flickr mail messages, invitations for friendship/followership. Ideally, a public interest service should be available to take custody of private information assets on behalf of users who could not be reached before a service shuts down.
      If Yahoo! wants to, it can shut down the service today, no notice, no redress, no refund, no photos.

      There should be a better way.

  11. How can Flickr loose money? Most serious users have pro subscriptions and if that is not sufficient to make a profit, then they just need to raise their fees. It’s a great service and it would be sad to see it deteriorating.

  12. That makes no sense at all. The only money I have ever given yahoo is for my pro account at Flickr. I really don’t plan on giving yahoo any money for anything else. Besides flickr is by far the most essential service Yahoo has to offer.

    Just my two cents.

  13. C Thomas Edwards

    Ericson, I’d be interested to know where you’re getting your information there. I have a feeling you’re not right about the financial side there.

  14. I have to disagree Om, Filckr is one of those places in Yahoo that are not making money.

    Do you think its a technology bastion in the whole company? As I programmer, I know — heck, I’m sure that that there are other places in Yahoo where technology is applied even more than at Flickr.

    When your unit is not monetizable, something’s gonna give. This just shows that Yahoo’s new CEO is keeping resources where its needed in these challenging times. No one with a resume showing they worked at Flickr will be out of a job for long… yes, even in these challenging times.

    • Anonymous

      Nonsense. Flickr makes money and with just a little bit more love and resources, it could be making even more. This is why cuts at Flickr seem particularly insane.

      You’re right that Flickr doesn’t produce bleeding edge technology that would give computer scientists hard-ons. It’s not Google, there are no Ph.Ds. But there is a lot of innovation in how to use and deploy existing technologies. The rest of the company struggles with things like rapid deployment, social networking, and sometimes even internationalization (lots of baggage from a US-centric culture). Lately they are looking to Flickr for lessons on how to do it right, with a minimum of new technology.

  15. SunnyvaleInsider

    After many years at Yahoo! and after looking at Catt’s blog post, I can’t say that his departure is a bad thing. One sad truism of software/internet companies is that small and big are completely different. The people, the ethos, the strategy, the risk level and the operational requirements are very different between a small startup and a multi-billion dollar company that is trying to capture 100 markets worldwide.

    Yahoo! has needed to grow up for a while, and I am glad that Carol Bartz has the cojones to make that happen.

      • Timothy James

        AOL has not redeeming qualities, so even Yahoo is better than that. If any site personifies a “candle in the wind”, its AOL. They’d had more than enough time to develop some type of identity, but no, they’re the SYBIL of the web portal world.

      • at least yahoo didn’t hand out a million cd’s for free hours so not only did you hear about how it was losing money near the end you actually saw the total w-oreing of it’self before your eyes.


  16. A Yahoo

    It’s a shame our weekly Hack Lunches inside Yahoo! aren’t open to the public. If able to attend, you’d see that there are many more than “a few pockets of future-thinking tinkerers at Yahoo.” There are hundreds of young, talented, excited engineers at Yahoo working their asses of to make a difference. What you need to remember is that standing between every engineer and the products they dream of building are seven layers of management, endless rounds of product discussions, and an entrenched corporate culture of “waiting and seeing”. Will Carol Bartz’s new reign help remedy the situation? Maybe. It’s still early, but, internally, morale is rising and key people once ignored are finally being recognized.

    • Another Yahoo

      I’d like to second this. Even now there are lots of people in Yahoo who are very clever and understand perfectly well how the web is changing, and have great, innovative ideas. Look at YUI for an example which did break out to the rest of the web.

      But for a very long time, Yahoo’s culture was broken. Mediocrity was not only tolerated but celebrated from the CEO on down.

      Carol is the best thing to happen to Yahoo in a decade. It’s possible that nobody can turn this around at this point, but if anyone can, she can.

      • I completely agree with the above. There are lots of smart engineers at Y!

        It’s the management who have let them down.

        Last year, they wasted several tens of millions of dollars on useless things like
        management consultants – something that would have otherwise improved
        the EPS and then let go people to make wall street happy!

        Perpetual Re-orgs and moves is another common disease.