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This article was published on March 12, 2016

If (when?) Yahoo goes under, who should buy Flickr and Tumblr?

If (when?) Yahoo goes under, who should buy Flickr and Tumblr?
Nate Swanner
Story by

Nate Swanner

Former Reporter, TNW

TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If you need to get in touch, Twitter is your best bet.

Yahoo is in turmoil. Its CEO and Board are pursuing different paths to either return it to solvency or a shell corporation. Much of what’s being discussed is what the company should do with core assets, two of which are Flickr and Tumblr.

CEO Marissa Meyer says she wants three years to try to save Yahoo, but prevailing wisdom suggests it will soon become little more than a holding corporation.

If that’s the case, Yahoo will need to start selling itself off piecemeal. While there are a ton of smaller entities that fall under the Yahoo umbrella, here’s where its two most notable should probably end up.



Aimed at millennials, Tumblr is a blogging platform that is more about imagery than static text. It’s also made some notable improvements of late, including Live Photos support and a GIF maker.

And that’s why it’s perfect for Twitter.

Recently, Jack Dorsey hinted the company’s 140-character tweet limit would expand to 10,000 characters, but stopped short of saying how. His tweet had an image that was a screengrab of text, but we don’t know where that was written.

Building extensibility into Twitter for Tumblr wouldn’t be impossible, either. It’s very plausible that a 140-character tweet preview could lead to an expanded Tumblr post, which would even take us beyond 10,000 characters.

Buying Tumblr would also encourage more users into the Twittersphere. In a way, it would be Twitter’s answer to Medium, and help those that don’t quite ‘get’ Twitter find use cases currently unavailable.

It could also serve Twitter’s other properties well. Embedded Vines would probably do well on Tumblr, as would Periscope feeds. Tumblr would also be complimentary for Twitter Moments, especially when it comes to pop culture, and is low-hanging fruit for advertisements.

Flickr_Quick Actions


With a feature set directed towards professional photographers, Flickr is a popular Web destination for hosted imagery. If sold, there are plenty of companies who would love to snap it up.

The best fit is probably Google, but I could also argue Facebook would benefit from Flickr.

On one hand, Flickr has a very nice search feature, and Google has been toying with surfacing Flickr images in Search for quite some time. Google also likes to filter everything through its search engine. From a discovery standpoint, Google is the best option.

But Google’s own photo storage and search option, Google Photos, is already pretty great. It doesn’t need help from Flickr image search, and has an impressive set of editing tools already in place. Flickr just adds to the mix, but it doesn’t add anything meaningful for Google.

Facebook would benefit from Flickr, though. The on-boarding process for imagery on Facebook is very dated: you take a picture, then upload it, and that’s about it.

With Flickr’s toolset, Facebook users would have a bit more control over creating great images within Facebook. Instead of just snapping pics and uploading, users could be able to edit and use filters seamlessly.

I say ‘could’ because it would take work. Facebook prefers to have in-house solutions rather than extensible products. It already has Instagram at its disposal, but has yet to bring any of its features into the Facebook fold. So Flickr’s features would probably need to be worked into Facebook’s existing platform, but if they were, it would absolutely make Facebook much better.


Yahoo is still in the mix

The wrench in all of this is that both platforms can make money, so it’s very possible Yahoo just hangs onto them.

Though Flickr and Tumblr would flourish elsewhere, dedicated users really don’t care who owns them, so long as the stewardship remains intact.

But, Yahoo just made Flickr’s desktop upload feature a paid one, which isn’t making its users happy. A happy side effect of either Google or Facebook buying it would be that most (if not all) of its features would likely be free.

We obviously don’t know what’s going on at Yahoo, but something has to give. If the board gets its way — and boards typically do — Yahoo will likely sell off assets and do little more than sit on Alibaba stock.

And if Flickr and Tumblr go to the right buyers, that’s going to be a great thing for you and I.

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