Thomas Hawk’s Open Letter to Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz 

Yahoo! is laying off a bunch of people in order to better focus on "our strengths (like email, the homepage, search, mobile, advertising, content and more)".

Photographer & blogger Thomas Hawk is upset by this new focus, because it ignores what may be Yahoo!'s best, most unique product: Flickr.

He writes to Bartz:

Do you even realize what you have with Flickr? It’s the largest well organized library of images in the world. Not only that, it has a very strong social networking component. In fact, Flickr may represent (if managed correctly) your single biggest opportunity to launch a much larger and more lucrative social network (and stock photography agency as well). Have you spent any time in any Flickr groups? They are addicting. People live in them. They play games in them. All kinds of activity goes on in them every day. And if you took the time to really explore the social side of Flickr, you’d learn this, and figure out a way to grow it.

But you know what? You haven’t taken the time to really explore the social side of Flickr. Hell, you don’t even have an account yourself on Flickr. One of the most highly visible and trafficked Yahoo properties and you don’t even have an account there. Would it be so hard to have your assistant set up an account for you and post some photos of some mountains from a family vacation two years ago?

Yesterday I renewed my Flickr Pro membership for the fourth time. I always buy the 2-year renewal, and when this one expires I will have been a happily paying Flickr customer for seven years. If Yahoo! really believes the best thing for them is to focus on e-mail, ads, and being a distribution partner for Microsoft's search engine, the best thing for Flickr would be for Yahoo! to just sell it or (probably better) spin it off as an independent company again. At least then they could use some of that Pro revenue to advance the product and hire some folks.