Marissa Mayer makes 25th acquisition in LookFlow

Steven Loeb · October 23, 2013 · Short URL:

Image recognition company's engineers and tech will be used to improve Flickr

Since taking over them reigns of Yahoo last July, CEO Marissa Mayer seems to have made it her mission to acquire all of the tech talent she can find. And now the company has reached a milestone of sorts, buying its 25th startup in just under a year. 

Its latest purchase is enhanced image recognition company LookFlow, who announced the acquisition on its homepage on Wednesday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the company revealed that it will be joining the team at  image hosting and video hosting site Flickr. 

"We built LookFlow as an entirely new way to explore images you love — combining delightful user experiences with the latest advances in machine learning," the LookFlow team wrote. "Flickr is the largest collection of images we love. They share our passion for creating phenomenal experiences & technology to help you discover those images."

A Yahoo spokesperson gave VatorNews a few more details about the acquisition, revealing that Yahoo will be "bringing five talented engineers and the technology they built" over to work at the Flickr headquarters in San Francisco.

In addition to their work on Flickr, LookFlow also said that it would be "helping Yahoo build a new deep learning group," in which it is already attempting to recruit employees who "want to help solve big problems."

What this group will be, and what it will entail, is unknown right now.

"LookFlow will help us build a new deep learning group, but we aren't going to discuss specifics at this time," the Yahoo spokesperson said.

Flickr updates

Mayer has made it another one of her priorities to revitalize the service. In fact, in May, the site was given a giant overhaul to, in Mayer's words, "make it awesome."

That meant giving it a new look, more space and putting it on more devices.

It was given a new homepage and photostream, all of its photos were made to be full resolution and it was given an Android app.

Perhaps, most importantly, though, on top of the new design, and the new platform, each user was given one terabyte of space.

At the time Mayer said that if you took every picture ever taken in the history of the world, it would only take up one-tenth of a single terabyte. 

Its iOS app has also been getting updates recently, first with new filters and editing tools in August, and then auto upload, and auto straightening, earlier this month.

Why overhaul Flickr

The updating of Flickr would seem to have two goals.

First, of course, Mayer wants Flickr to be, as she said, awesome because its a Yahoo product and it should be something that people want to use.

But secondly, and I think more importantly, it is a sign to Tumblr users that they have nothing to fear.

When it became clear that Yahoo was interested in buying Tumblr, the Internet seemed to have one collective thought: please do not let this become another Flickr. That was because Flickr, which was bought by Yahoo in 2005, went from being a hip image hosting and video hosting website to one that was abandonded, and largely forgotten by the Internet community.

Yahoo did officially buy Tumblr for $1.1 billion in May, and the thought scared users so much that thousands feld to other services just fearing what might happen.

So I really believe that Mayer is putting so much effort into Flickr as a way of telling Tumblr users, as well as those who use any other product Yahoo might buy in the future, that the company does care about its products now. They will not turn into another Flickr.

Yahoo's other acquistions

As I said earlier, this is Yahoo's 25th acquisition under Mayer's leadership. Here are the other 24:

The first one was Stamped, the Justin Bieber-backed mobile app that lets users “stamp” and share their favorite restaurants, movies, books, and music, which was purchased in October of 2012; and OnTheAir, a video chat service that can be used for casual hangouts or to organize largish webinars.

In January, Yahoo bought social news start-up In February, Yahoo purchased location discovery app Alike, and then Yahoo acqu-hired the team at personalized recommendation service Jybe, giving the company both a location service, and a team with knowledge in personalized recommendations.

In March, the company bought news summarizer Summly and then it scooped up Astrid, a productivity app which helps people manage lists. 

The company then bought real-time polling tool GoPollGo and frequent flier search startup MileWise on the same day, before also purchasing PlayerScale, which makes software infrastructure for cross-platform gaming.

In May, it picked up game developer Loki Studios and purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion. The company then scooped up free conference call service Rondee in June

July was a particularly busy month for Yahoo: it picked up its 20th purchase in commerce app platform Lexity, and it also acquired fantasy sports app Bignoggin; rich media service Qwiki; email and address book management app Xobni; advanced mobile ad technology startup Admovate; and social data analytics platform Ztelic.

Yahoo then bought social media web browser startup Rockmelt and Image recognition service IQ Engines in August, and sports app developer Hitpost in a purchase earlier this month. 

Its most recent purchase before this was URL-shortening service Bread. 

(Image source:

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