When the company that acquires a great company starts to founder

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Tue, Jun 17 - 3:44 pm EDT | 6 years ago by
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I don’t think Yahoo can catch a break lately.  Man you have the over publicized battle with Microsoft (I doubt we’ve seen the last act of this saga), execs, managers, and just regular folks leaving in droves.  This just isn’t something that I’d like to wake up to everyday (headlines like this don’t help either: Time To Stem The Yahoo Bleed, Jerry – Silicon Alley Insider).  To add insult to injury couple of the folks brought into Yahoo are leaving, which wouldn’t be too interesting except those people are Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield, the minds behind Flickr:

Photo sharing site Flickr is one of the leading lights of Yahoo – but cofounders (and husband/wife team) Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield won’t be around to keep driving the product forward. They are both joining the mass exodus of executives from the company.–Flickr Co-founders Join Mass Exodus From Yahoo

Flickr is one of those bright stars in the Yahoo pantheon that I think is just, well, amazing.  I use it almost daily (as my 8800+ photos on there can attest to).  What worries me is that while Flickr has stayed great, it really hasn’t done a lot of new and great things since acquisition.  I don’t blame the Flickr folks, okay the uploader they pushed out sucks, because I wonder if Flickr was stuck in a corporate rut.  There is the argument that, heck it freakin’ works don’t mess with it. So the relative stagnation might really be the fault of Yahoo not leveraging the value it brought it (which del.icio.us and MyBlogLog suffer from as well, imho).  What’s next for Flickr then?

According to Stuart leaving a comment on the TC article, Flickr will be fine:

Stewart Butterfield June 17th, 2008 at 3:09 pm No need to worry about the future of Flickr – it’s well-protected from the uppings and downings of YHOO and will continue to be awesome. Kakul is actually better than me anyway — ask anyone on the team. ;)–Flickr Co-founders Join Mass Exodus From Yahoo

Well that’s okay. I guess, but the monetary Stewart and Caterina must have taken as Thomas Hawk alluded to–Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection: Flickr’s Fake and Butterfield to Leave Yahoo!—must smart a wee bit.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the people who were bought by Yahoo found a way to buy themselves back?  Or really stick it to Yahoo and take their millions and make the Flickr 2.0, for example, that they always wanted to but couldn’t.

All I hope is that Yahoo doesn’t start doing the fire sale bit and start selling off the good stuff to the highest bidder to raise cash.

See that’s what happens when a great company is acquired, then the buyer starts to run onto the rocks.  You risk your part getting sold off for quick cash.

Update:

I caught Duncan’s post through Techmeme or something on Flickr alternatives and decided to check out SmugMug again.  I wander over there and what do I see but this little button on the homepage:

image

Which then leads to this (click for larger version):

image

Clearly someone had their thinking cap on.  If this isn’t new, well cool, then it is a fortuitous bit of luck.  Interestingly enough I was going to get my daughter a Flickr pro account soon to show off her photography.  Maybe that will be a SmugMug account.

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  • http://blog.law.harvard.edu/yulelog Yule Heibel

    I think Stewart Butterfield should move back to Victoria with his family, and they should start a great company here. His dad David Butterfield (the developer) could set them up with a nice PH in Shoal Point until they find suitable digs near the Victoria Golf Course (OB) where they got married, or perhaps near Stewart’s old high school (St. Michael’s University School – SMUS). I’m sure Maya would love growing up here. (And SMUS would love to welcome her as a student.)

    I’m ready to see a reverse flow — instead of people leaving, let ‘em flow back again!

    But who am I talking to? You’re leaving too! ;-)