Will the Flickr Founders Return?

Recent­ly  I learned that Stew­art But­ter­field — who along with his wife, Cate­ri­na Fake,  co-found­ed one of the most inter­est­ing and excit­ing star­tups to ush­er in the ‘Web 2.0’ era — has resigned from Yahoo, the cur­rent own­ers of that busi­ness. His let­ter of res­ig­na­tion was post­ed on Jon Gru­ber’s Dar­ing Fire­ball, and I could­n’t resist reprint­ing it here; It’s a scream:

From: Stew­art Butterfield
Sent: Fri­day, June 13, 2008 10:57 AM
To: Brad Garlinghouse
Sub­ject: Resignation

Dear Brad,

As you know, tin is in my blood. For gen­er­a­tions my fam­i­ly has worked with this most use­ful of met­als. When I joined Yahoo back in ’21, it was a sheet-tin con­cern of great momen­tum, growth and inno­va­tion. I knew it was the place for me.

Over the decades as the com­pa­ny grew and expand­ed, first into dyes and punch­es, into cop­per, cor­ru­gat­ed steel, syn­the­sized rub­ber, pip­ing, milling equip­ment, engines, instru­ments, weapon­ry, and so on, I still felt at home, because tin was the core of the business.

After the war, as we con­tin­ued to branch out in elec­tron­ics, all man­ner of aero­nau­ti­cal frames, hulls and bod­ies, com­put­ing and tab­u­lat­ing machines, pre­ci­sion con­trols, and lat­er, far­ther afield — real estate, brew­ing, con­sumer finance, grain pro­cess­ing, light­ing and salty snacks — I took it in stride, for there was still a place for me.

Since the late 80s, as the gen­er­al man­u­fac­tur­ing, oil explo­ration & refin­ing, logis­tics, and hotel & casi­no divi­sions rose to promi­nence, I have felt some­what side­lined. By the time of the inter­net rev­o­lu­tion and our expan­sions into Web Sites, I have been cast adrift. I tried to roll with the times, but nary a sheet of tin has rolled of our own pro­duc­tion lines in over 30 years.

I don’t know what you and the oth­er exec­u­tives have planned for this com­pa­ny, but I know that my abil­i­ty to con­tribute has dwin­dled to near-noth­ing, and not entire­ly because of my advanc­ing age. There­fore, with a heavy heart, I rec­og­nize that it is time for me to and the com­pa­ny to part ways.

In my 87 years ser­vice, I’ve accom­plished many feats, shared in the ups and downs, made great friends, and learned a tremen­dous amount (who would have thought that Elec­tron­ic Mail would come to sup­plant the nation’s own great and ven­er­a­ble post!?) but there is a new gen­er­a­tion now and it would be unfair not to give them a chance. Those that start­ed in the make-work pro­grams of the depres­sion, on the GI pro­grams in the late 40s, and even those young baby boomers need their own try, with­out us old ‘uns stand­ing in the way.

So, please accept my res­ig­na­tion, effec­tive July 12. And I don’t need no fan­cy par­ties or gold watch­es (I still have the one from ’61 and ’76). 1 will be spend­ing more time with my fam­i­ly, tend­ing to my small but grow­ing alpaca herd and, of course, get­ting back to work­ing with tin, my first love.

Your old tin-smithing friend and colleague,

- Stew­art Butterfield

(In case you did­n’t get the gag, Stew­art But­ter­field is 35 years old)

It’s worth not­ing that a Face­book group has been formed, called Bring­Ca­teri­naAnd­Stew­artHome. The Web site Strut­ta is han­dling the domain http://www.BringCaterinaAndStewartHome where peo­ple are post­ing pho­tos of our beau­ti­ful city and point­ing out the strengths of the place, hop­ing to woo these two back.

Frankly, I’d like to see them return as well. They are, in a way, the prodi­gal son and daugh­ter of the tech scene here.  Flickr has always been held up as The Great Van­cou­ver Tech Suc­cess Sto­ry, and I would imag­ine that it has embold­ened its share of star­tups in Yale­town and Gas­town. Since I arrived short­ly after they left, I always felt like I missed out on some of the joie de vivre that Ludi­corp brought to Van­cou­ver. Indeed, I even had giv­en some thought as to show­ing up on their doorstep while we were mak­ing plans in Cam­bridge, and I remem­ber my dis­ap­point­ment as I saw the pho­tos of the good-bye par­ty a few months before we were to make the move (Doh!).

With a let­ter of res­ig­na­tion as wit­ty and clever as that one, and a track record unequaled by most of the techies of Van­cou­ver, we could use a guy like that around here.

3 Replies to “Will the Flickr Founders Return?”

Comments are closed.