Google Goes for Picnik: Buys Online Photo-Editing Startup

Google cofounder Sergey Brin gets his wish with online photo editor

Now that Google owns Picnik, a Seattle-based startup which lets consumers edit photos on the Web, Google cofounder Sergey Brin can rest a little easier.

In 2008, Brin derided operating systems like Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh OS X, but admitted he still edited his photos using an application on his computer, and not in a Web browser like he does with documents and emails.

Except he could have been by using a Web application from Seattle-based startup Bitnik called Picnik -- and he could have been doing it on Yahoo-owned photo-sharing site Flickr as far back as 2007.

Yahoo bought Flickr in 2005, winning a competition with Google to buy the then-hot Web startup. Spurned by Flickr, Google bought a rival service, Picasa, which has not proved as popular.

Picnik employees will join an existing Google office in the Seattle area. No terms for the deal were disclosed, but one has to imagine they paid more than Yahoo would have in 2007. when Flickr announced its partnership. Picnik now also works with photos users upload to Facebook and Google's photo site, Picasa.

Google has been on a buying spree of late, picking up a diverse set of startups from online video encoding developer On2 to social search site Aardvark. Google has promised that Picnik will continue to work with third-party sites, like Flickr.

A suggestion for Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz: Rather than missing the boat on yet another good deal, snap up Aviary, the best online image-editing tool out there with lots of relatively advanced features that would appeal to Flickr's hardcore photography nerd users and show support for one of Yahoo's still-relevant Web properties.

Jackson West is surprised Google went with Picnik and not Aviary.

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