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SAN FRANCISCO – Flickr was trained by Silicon Valley Photo-sharing and storage company SmugMug, USA TODAY has learned.

SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill said USA TODAY he's committed to breathing new life into the faded social life Networking pioneer that housed photos and lively interactions long before it became fashionable.

SmugMug, an independent, family-owned business, will be hosting Flickr as an independent community Focusing on the resources and resources it deserves, MacAskill said in an exclusive interview.

He declined to reveal the terms of the deal, which was closed this week.

"Flickr is an amazing community, full of some of the world's most passionate photographers, a fantastic product and a beloved brand that provides billions of photos to hundreds of millions around the world," says MacAskill. "Flickr has survived through thick and thin and is the core of the entire Internet."

The surprise deal ends months of uncertainty for Flickr, whose fate has been in the air since last year when Yahoo was bought by Verizon for $ 4.5 billion and joined AOL in Verizon's Eath subsidiary.

Oath has begun to single out some of his assets after merging AOL and Yahoo. Earlier this month, Oath sold the e-commerce company Polyvore, which it had acquired under Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

The largely free Flickr was founded in 2004 and played a central role in the cultural and social life of the Internet. Friendships were made on Flickr by people sharing photos and others commenting on them.

In the smartphone era overshadowed by the rise of Facebook and Instagram, Flickr has been exiting to rival services, but has stuck despite Yahoo's product and policy mishaps and hacks, as well as more intense competition from Google and others Photo Services

Traffic has shrunk since its heyday, but Flickr says it has more than 75 million registered photographers and over 100 million unique users who post tens of billions of photos. Flickr had 13.1 million unique visitors in March, up from 10.8 million a year ago, according to market research firm comScore.

SmugMug was founded in 2002, making it even longer than Flickr and has opposed the conventional wisdom of Silicon Valley from the start, never a penny of outside investors or entertaining buyout deals. It works on a smaller scale, but has gained millions of customers with a determined dedication to photography and a personal touch that is often lacking in the online services of giant corporations.

Don MacAskill, CEO of Smugmug (Photo: Christopher Prentiss Michel)

And in an industry that offers free services to collect personal information in order to advertise To target, SmugMug has provided people willing to pay privacy and storage, offering four levels of subscriptions to normal shutter bugs and professional photographers.

MacAskill says that the SmugMug model works for the business and his conscience because it aligns its incentives with its customers. "We do not mine our customers' photos to sell information to the highest bidder or launch targeted advertising campaigns," he said.

Following the revelations that 87 million Facebook users have stolen their personal information from Cambridge Analytica, a British political firm linked to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, consumers are concerned about trading their data for a free service.

"We can now see a fundamental change in the marketplace, as preferences shift – or when users are better informed by digital platforms of the consequences of sharing their private data – we could enter a world where there is a considerable amount of change Consumers view their data as a credit they can not free themselves from. "Makan Delrahim, director of the Department of Justice's cartel department, said on Thursday at a conference in Chicago.

This may be especially true when it comes to storing photos that are often more personal than words, says Carolina Milanesi, technology analyst with creative strategies.

"While most ordinary consumers might have moved on from Flickr, the platform is a starting point for a vibrant community of people who love photography," said Milanesi. "SmugMug has the potential to offer this community a much curated offer, as well as the guarantee that photography is not just a priority, but a priority."

The majority of Flickr users have free accounts that advertise alongside photos. Flickr also offers "pro" subscriptions for $ 6 a month or $ 50 a year.

MacAskill says he does not yet know what he plans for Flickr's business.

"I do not know what the future holds, it's a new model for me," he said. "We believe we need to do it for cash flow and profitability, and we need to look at the business and make sure it grows and gets well."

A longtime fan of Flickr, MacAskill says before he makes any decisions he plans to gather feedback from employees and users. [19659008] "It sounds silly for the CEO not to fully know what he's going to do, but we have not built SmugMug on a master plan either.We try to listen to our customers, and if enough of them ask for something that suits them or the community is important, let's go and build it, "he said.

The acquisition of SmugMug completes a long and often painful chapter for Flickr. Founded in 2004 by Stewart Butterfield and his then-wife Caterina Fake, Flickr was sold to Yahoo for $ 35 million a year later, after the service had reached a massive following.

Silicon Valley spoke of the "Flickrization of Yahoo" and Yahoo its photo service, Yahoo Photos, and made Flickr its flagship.

But innovation at Flickr stuttered under the umbrella of Yahoo, Butterfield told Wired . He and his co-founders had to yearn for resources and delay critical progress as smartphone photography exploded. Flickr's mobile app was finally launched in 2009 but was slow and bug-infected.

When Mayer took over responsibility for Yahoo in 2012, Flickr users hoped it would finally get the attention it deserved. One user, the photographer Sean Bonner, had a website – – to deliver the message: "Please make Flickr great again."

But at the time released improved mobile apps and offered a terabyte of storage space For Flickr, it was too late to fill the floor it had abandoned.

"We are thrilled that these two brands are coming together to expand their photo-sharing communities and innovate for their members," Oath said in a statement to USA TODAY.

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