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HomeNewsGoodbye Flickr, hello Lickr: Liberals “pop the cork” on big tech investment

Goodbye Flickr, hello Lickr: Liberals “pop the cork” on big tech investment


A. Brian Amadan

A British Columbia success story is coming home. 

The electioneering BC Liberals will today announce the $4.01 billion acquisition of controlling interest in Flickr, the free online photo gallery developed in Vancouver in 2004 and acquired by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo in 2005. 

Headquarters will return to Vancouver and co-founders Stewart Butterfield and Catherina Fake will return in senior executive roles. 

B.C. government’s Lickr plan

U.S. telecommunications giant Verizon acquired depressed search engine Yahoo last summer. Negotiations took place in mid-March with Verizon executives who were visiting Vancouver for the government-sponsored #BCTECH Summit. Verizon will retain a minority interest and the app will stay within the Yahoo content universe.

The big surprise, however, will be the subtle, yet strategic, rebranding.

A leaked copy of the B.C. government’s photo gallery shows the new word mark “Lickr” — Flickr without the F — on a page featuring photographs from beer, wine and spirits industry events attended by Premier Christy Clark and others. According to a briefing note for Liquor Distribution Minister Coralee Oakes, the post-acquisition business plan will involve increased promotion of the province’s beverage alcohol industry. 

Since winning a surprise re-election in 2013, the deregulation and expansion of the liquor industry across the province has been the only major Liberal policy that has unfolded as planned.

The world natural gas glut has prevented Clark’s LNG vision from blooming. The party’s loosely regulated fundraising regime has become a key election issue and spawned an RCMP investigation into allegedly illegal donations by lobbyists. 

Critics have pointed to a litany of social problems, such as small town school closures, criminal trial delays, deaths of abused and neglected foster children, senior citizens left to languish in hospital hallways, and homeless camps. But the Liberals are hoping voters see beyond all of that when they go to the polls on May 9. The liquor modernization strategy spurred the proliferation of independent wineries, breweries and distilleries in urban and rural areas. B.C. bars finally got happy hour in 2014, government liquor stores are now open Sundays and many boast refrigerated beer.

The acquisition of Flickr and rebranding as Lickr will be formally announced at a noon news conference on April 1 at the B.C. Liquor Store on Cambie Street near 41st in Vancouver.

The event will feature a reunion of Liberal liquor ministers Rich Coleman, Suzanne Anton, John Yap and Oakes, and free samples from Penticton’s Laughing Stock Vineyards