Yahoo announced mass layoffs back in December of 2010. But today we got news of some significant layoffs at the photosharing service Flickr, via a former employee, engineer Nolan Caudill. “I don’t really know the real purpose of me writing this. I’m always hesitant to write anything good, bad, or otherwise about my past employers, but this one deserves to get called out,” he wrote in a blog post. “Yahoo made a major mistake today and there’s no other way to interpret it. I’m mad and this is my soapbox.”
What was the major mistake? Yahoo has laid off at least five employees at Flickr, including the highest level of customer support: the people who fix bugs like the mistake that obliterated poweruser Mirco Wilhelm’s 3,400-odd photos last year.
The customer service reps knew Flickr inside and out, Mr. Caudill said, and are an important bridge between customers and the company now that it’s gotten so big. They advocated for the users in meetings and handled user complaints with grace. “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,” Mr. Caudill wrote. “Not only do you have the patience of a saint (imagine getting asked the same 3 questions, 50 times a day, every day) but also the tact to work with developers and product folks whose priorities are different from the users, as those things tend to go.”
“I bet they don’t even know what they’ve done and that’s probably the worst part of the whole thing,” he concluded. The story of Flickr’s evolution (read: stagnation and neglect) under its Yahoo overlords is already well-documented.