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IndustrySoftware development
FounderStewart Butterfield, Caterina Fake and Jason Classon

Ludicorp was a company, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, that created Flickr and Game Neverending.[1][2][3] It was founded in 2002 by Stewart Butterfield, Caterina Fake and Jason Classon and was bought by Yahoo! on March 20, 2005.[4][5]

Ludicorp's structure[edit]


Their team consisted of:

Advisory board[edit]



Stewart Butterfield, one founder of Ludicorp earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1996 from the University of Victoria. and then went on to earn a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Cambridge shortly after.[6] He also earned a master's degree in history from the University of Cambridge.[7] Butterfield says his choice in degree, although uncommon for a STEM CEO, has benefited him in management and running businesses.[7] Following this, he became a part of Jason Classon's start up business, which they would end up selling.[6]

Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield met as web designers living in San Francisco and Vancouver respectively when they met.[4] Fake moved to Vancouver and the two got married, starting Ludicorp with Classon, just after their honeymoon.[4] Fake says that the inspiration for the name Ludicorp came from the Latin word ludus, meaning play, as they are working on an online game, Game Neverending.[4]

Early operations[edit]

Shortly following Ludicorp's founding, Butterfield, Classon and Fake began working on Game Neverending.[4] According to Fake “[She] did the game design, Stewart did the interaction design and Jason did the PHP for the prototype.”[4] During the time they were developing Game Neverending, Ludicorp were able to secure a government loan and began to break even shortly later.[4] Fake expressed how raising funds for Flickr however was difficult as it was a new concept, including many new features in the new social media market.[4][8]

Development of Game Neverending[edit]

According to Fake, “Neopets was one of the inspirations for Game Neverending,” a game where online multiplayer interaction was available.[4] It was meant to be a game that would not end, and there was no concept of winning or losing in it.[8] Game Neverending was finished and released in 2002, however it did not gain the success Ludicorp had wanted it to.[9] Game Neverending eventually became Ludicorp's major project, Flickr.[10]

Fake said that many in Ludicorp were disappointed to forgo Game Neverending, but they also realised that Flickr was a rising source of success for them.[4]

Development of Flickr[edit]

Game Neverending contained a feature which would allow players to communicate and share photographs with each other.[4] However, all the technical features used to create this function were also the fundamental features of Flickr.[8] After Game neverending became a financial failure, the Ludicorp executives then decided to drop that project and pursue Flickr, especially as it was beginning to gain financial success in 2004.[4]

Flickr's first version was built in 8 weeks, as Ludicorp already had the necessary technology and software from Game Neverending.[4] It was essentially a social networking site, allowing users to post and share pictures they had taken, without any help from professional companies.[11] Its fast growth was pushed by the increasing popularity of social networking sites, such as YouTube and the increasing availability of smartphones with built in cameras.[4][11]

Although many users were professional photographers, Flickr was aimed at those who found photography as a hobby.[11] According to Fake, herself and Butterfield were both bloggers in their spare time and this was beneficial for them when creating the site.[4] Ludicorp created Flickr in a way that it filled a hole in the market; other competitors did not allow bloggers to post pictures.[8] Ludicorp also added many first ever features in Flickr, such as “authing in,” being able to change the amount of information you share with your friends and activity streams.[8]

Ludicorp also designed Flickr to be more focused on content, rather than as a social interaction site, unlike a platform such as Facebook.[11] Users can follow other users in a non-mutual subscription model, like YouTube.[11] Furthermore, content can be viewed without the subscription, another first for social media sites in 2004.[11] Fake said that they allowed this as at the time publicly viewable content was not a feature on other social media platforms.[4]

According to Fake, Flickr “turned the tide for Ludicorp,” as with the failure of Game Neverending, the company was struggling.[4] By the end of 2004 Flickr was worth approximately US$25 million.[8] This led to many companies having interest in acquiring Ludicorp, one such company being Yahoo!.[4]

Acquisition by Yahoo![edit]

At the end of 2004, Butterfield, Fake and Classon sold Ludicorp to Yahoo!.[8] However, Butterfield also has admitted to selling the company too early,[8] as many fans and users of twitter considered Yahoo! to be a poor owner.[12] Following the acquisition, Fake and Classon left, with Butterfield following two years later in 2007 after having his second child and divorcing from Fake.[8] In a memoir he sent to Brad Garlinghouse, announcing his resignation he said he felt “sidelined” by Yahoo! and did not have as much of a say in his company anymore.[8]

In the years that Yahoo! owned Ludicorp, its main product Flickr peaked and then began to decline, with other social media networks taking over,[13] such as Instagram and Snapchat.[12] Furthermore, as Yahoo! did not focus on the development of Flickr it became difficult to monetize becoming unprofitable for Ludicorp and Yahoo!.[13] Realising this, Yahoo! sold Flickr to SmugMug,[12] causing Ludicorp to lose its main product. Although Ludicorp no longer owns Flickr as Yahoo! sold the product, not the company.[12]


  1. ^ "Game Neverending Rises From The Dead". Tech Crunch. April 2, 2008.
  2. ^ "SmugMug Acquires Flickr, Promises to Keep Community Alive". KQED. Apr 23, 2018.
  3. ^ "Yahoo acquires Flickr photo sharing service". Macworld. Mar 21, 2005.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Livingston, Jessica (2007). Founders at Work. Apress. ISBN 978-1590597149.
  5. ^ "Yahoo Acquires Flickr Creator". Wall Street Journal. March 20, 2005.
  6. ^ a b Hembroth, M; Hartmans, A (December 4, 2020). "The life and career of Stewart Butterfield, the Flickr cofounder and Slack CEO who just sold his company to Salesforce for $27.7 billion". Business Insider.
  7. ^ a b Welch, J (2021). "Success beyond STEM: an analysis of educational background of the Fortune 50 CEOs". Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning. 11 (2): 557–575. doi:10.1108/HESWBL-02-2020-0018. S2CID 225426350.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Honan, M (2014). "The Most Fascinating Profile You'll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup". Wired.
  9. ^ The Economist (2016). "Office connection; the Slack generation". The Economist. Vol. 419. pp. 53–54.
  10. ^ The Week (2017). "City Profiles". The Week. 44.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Zeng, X; Wei, L (2013). "Social ties and user content generation: evidence from Flickr". Information Systems Research. 24 (1): 71–87. doi:10.1287/isre.1120.0464. JSTOR 42004270.
  12. ^ a b c d Frommer, D (2018). "Flickr has been sold after 13 years at Yahoo. Can Flickr be relevant again?". Recode.
  13. ^ a b Tiffany, K (2019). "Flickr will soon start deleting photos — and massive chunks of internet history". Vox.

External links[edit]