Flickr and SmartMug

A little known photo hosting company called SmartMug has just bought Flickr

Flickr is home to one of the internet’s most powerful communities of professional and amateur photographers. It was also one of the internet’s first social media platforms aimed solely at photographers.

But the image hosting pioneer has fallen behind in the race for your images in recent years, loosing out to the likes of Instagram and Facebook. After launching in 2004, Flickr became wildly popular amongst photographers but since being purchased by Yahoo for $25 million only a year after launching, it has failed to adapt to new technology.

The rise of smartphones and the migration from traditional browser based sites to mobile apps has allowed forward thinking companies like Instagram (now owned by Facebook) to take the lead.

In recent years Yahoo tried to catch up with the competition by redesigning the site and launching its own apps for smartphone users but it was a case of too little too late for Yahoo, which itself was failing. In 2017 Yahoo was bought out by Verizon.

Verizon quickly went about cost cutting and selling off assets belonging to Yahoo, which included Flickr.

What’s next for Flickr?

SmartMug is a photo hosting company who have just bought a platform much bigger than themselves, so what plans do they have for such a beloved corner of the internet?

Well first of all they have said, at least for the time being, that Flickr will continue to run as a standalone website.

SmartMug CEO, Don MacAskill, said:

It’s a fantastic product and a beloved brand, supplying tens of billions of photos to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Flickr will continue to operate separately, just as it has been. Flickr’s free accounts are foundational to its community of influential and engaged photographers.

MacAskill has promised to invest the money needed to restore the old photo sharing giant to its former glory but eventually intends to migrate Flickr’s backend infrastructure over to SmartMug. Exactly what that means is anyone’s guess.

It sounds silly for the CEO not to totally know what he’s going to do, but we haven’t built SmugMug on a master plan either. We try to listen to our customers and when enough of them ask for something that’s important to them or to the community, we go and build it. – Don MacAskill

One of the more controversial plans SmartMug has for Flickr is that they plan to move every photo hosted on Flickr over to their own platform at some point, but they say that the photos will also remain on both sites.

The price paid to acquire Flickr has not been disclosed. Have SmartMug been true to their name and made a smart investment in buying potentially 10’s of billions of photos?

Only time will tell.

You can read SmartMug’s official press release about the acquisition here.


Hi, I'm Charlie. Originally from the UK, but brought up in Spain, I'm a travel photographer and passionate writer. For the last few years, I've been lucky enough to turn my passion for travel photography and writing into my full-time job. It allows me to travel the world doing what I love. A fun fact about me is that I'm also a qualified scuba diving instructor so in my spare time when I'm not behind a camera or laptop, you'll probably find me underwater somewhere!


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