Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Fertile Medium

Fertile MediumHeather and I have been avid Flickr members since the very beginning. So when Yahoo bought them and they started hiring, Heather was first in the door. That was 5 years ago.

During that time, Heather was responsible for the Flickr community as it grew from a small town into a worldwide superpower. As Director of Community, she’s learned some amazing lessons – the kind of lessons you can only learn running a gigantic creative community. Meanwhile, I started two companies and worked with dozens more. We both have traveled the world, speaking about design and community online.

Looking back at the combined 30 years of our work online, the theme is easy to spot. We love the web and the opportunities it gives us to connect, form relationships, create things, and grow community. The internet is the most fertile medium the world has ever known. It can grow beautiful things or ugly things depending on how you approach it. It takes a lot of work, and we love doing that work.

So when Heather decided to move on from Flickr, we talked a lot about what to do next. I’ve been a freelancer for a long time, but have never formalized my work life. This was just the kick in the pants I needed.

So we’re founding a company together. It’s called Fertile Medium. We want to help other companies to design better community experiences online. We’ll be saying much more over the coming months.

I should mention that I am, of course, still working with HP on MagCloud and will continue to do so as long as I’m able – I love the project – and Heather be continuing at Flickr until the end of April, and then will be taking a well-deserved break, so we won’t be available until June at the earliest. But if you think you might be able to use our help, you can reach us at “us” at

Personally, I’d like to thank Flickr for all these years as a shining example of Doing It Right on the web. It’s a better web with you in it.

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.