When Flickr Product Chief Markus Spiering wrote a couple weeks ago about things that were being discarded as part of a “New Year’s cleaning,” there was no mention it would include the site’s core customer service team. But at least some, if not all of that team, was given pink slips on Monday — and, according to some tweets, it happened without a word of warning or explanation.
A Yahoo spokesperson tonight said “no comment” in response to our requests for information about the Flickr layoffs.
It’s not certain exactly who and how many Flickr employees were fired, but there’s plenty of evidence to be pieced together via blog posts and tweets from current and former Flickr employees. For starters, David Fusco — whose LinkedIn profile describes him as a senior program manager at Flickr — tweeted Tuesday morning that “12 percent of Flickr” is gone, and included a photo (see link in his tweet) of what we assume is some of the laid off Flickr crew.
My work buddies *and 12% of Flickr* are gone. Entering stage 3: Anger flic.kr/p/bmbssM
— David Fusco (@andthemonkey) January 31, 2012
In a blog post Monday, former Flickr engineer Nolan Caudill says that “Yahoo laid off the highest level of Flickr’s customer support” and says these were the people who knew about Flickr’s ins and outs “than anyone else on the team.”
Having people on your team aware of everything the site does is huge. You literally can’t buy that or replace it or outsource it, though it appears that Yahoo thinks it can.
And some are angry about how Yahoo apparently handled the layoffs. Andy Baio of Waxy.org tweeted a rumor that “Yahoo! didn’t warn Flickr management before the support team layoff.” And Tara Kirchner, the former head of marketing for Flickr, seemed to echo that with this tweet:
Yahoo, what is wrong with you? You laid off the entire Flickr Customer Care team, with not a word of explanation? You suck.
— Tara Suan Kirchner (@tarasuan) January 31, 2012
There were rumblings a year ago that Flickr might be on Yahoo’s chopping block under former CEO Carol Bartz. Yahoo Product Chief Blake Irving enthusiastically refuted those reports on Twitter, saying “Hell yes” Yahoo is committed to Flickr, and adding, “We love this product and team; on strategy and profitable.”
Of course, Yahoo now has a new CEO in Scott Thompson, and the company is still reportedly considering a sale of its assets. Some may say that eliminating staff could make Flickr more attractive.
And it’s not just people being trimmed. As part of Spiering’s “renewed focus” announcement, Flickr also killed off a number of features that were “not core to our product” or weren’t popular with Flickr users.