Flickrization Of Yahoo Well Underway

Business 2.0: “I look at Flickr with envy,” Jerry Yang, co-founder and chief of Yahoo says. “It feels like where the Web is going.”
What Yang envies is the community of 1.5 million rabidly loyal users Flickr has cultivated and the vast amount of content they’ve created. Of the 60 million photos uploaded to the site so far, more than 80 percent are public, meaning that anyone can look at them. More than half have been “tagged” with user-created labels, making them searchable. To use Flickr is to belong to the culture of participation sweeping the Web — where you write your own blog, produce your own podcast, and post your personal photos for all to see. If this is where the Web is going, Yang wants to make sure Yahoo gets there first.
Indeed, the Flickr purchase helped ignite a larger strategy. Thanks to a new generation of managers like Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake, Yahoo is starting to see how user-generated content, or “social media,” is a key weapon in its war against Google. That upstart in neighboring Mountain View may have a better reputation for search, it may dominate online advertising, and it may always win when it comes to machines and math. But Yahoo has 191 million registered users. What would happen if it could form deep, lasting, Flickr-like bonds with them — and get them to apply tags not just to photos, but to the entire Web?
Many of the champions of social media inside Yahoo — including Flickr’s Butterfield and Fake, senior technologist Bradley Horowitz, and the head of Yahoo’s developer network, Toni Schneider — are former startup founders recently acquired or hired. These entrepreneurs are sprinkling their social-media DNA all over the company, in a process some insiders are calling the “Flickrization” of Yahoo.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.