Yesterday, a slide from a presentation at Yahoo was leaked. The information spread like wildfire. Below you can see a copy of this slide image:
As you can see, Yahoo is planning to shutdown, or “Sunset” in corporate speak, AltaVista, Delicious, MyBlogLog, Yahoo Buzz and a few others. Of course, the blogosphere had its typical fit of hysteria, mostly because of the Delicious shutdown. Of the products listed, Delicious probably has the largest usage and is also one of the classic Web 2.0 applications. Even if Delicious has not had as much attention as we all would have liked, it was still very dear to some of us. However, the shutdown of these products is not the issue. These things happen all the time, and in some cases the shutdown of a service probably should have happened ages ago.
The problem lies in Yahoo’s handling of this situation. According to various reports, the official response from Yahoo regarding the blogger chatter about the slide is:
Part of our organizational streamlining involves cutting our investment in underperforming or off-strategy products to put better focus on our core strengths and fund new innovation in the next year and beyond.
We continuously evaluate and prioritize our portfolio of products and services, and do plan to shut down some products in the coming months such as Yahoo! Buzz, our Traffic APIs, and others. We will communicate specific plans when appropriate.
(Source: TechCrunch, http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/16/is-yahoo-shutting-down-del-icio-us/)
When a whole host of blogs are commenting on the possible closure of a popular service like Delicious, do you really want your official response to be something like “we will close services when we see it is appropriate and on our own schedule, so leave us alone”? Why not respond to bloggers as if we care about the product and would prefer to find a way to keep it running? Why not tell us, “Due to various cost cutting measures, we need to close several services that do not generate enough revenue. Disappointingly, Delicious is among those services to be closed at an undetermined time.” If that was the response, bloggers would just be lamenting the death of a service, not talking about the continued failure of Yahoo to understand their own direction, or even the fact that Yahoo seems to have lost touch with the internet in general.
Given the confusion that seems to emanate from this company, I do not find it surprising that they are missing the point of all of the blog chatter. People tend to be very passionate about the services they use, and Delicious is one of those heavily used services. It is a shame to see it go, but it is even worse that Yahoo sees this purely as a cost cutting measure that we don’t understand. They fail to realize that pure PR spin does not work well in this new internet. Given that Yahoo is trying to evolve into a new media company for this new internet, I do not have much hope for their future.
UPDATE: At least we have an answer from Delicious themselves. In a new blog post they give us all of the information that we need:
No, we are not shutting down Delicious. While we have determined that there is not a strategic fit at Yahoo!, we believe there is a ideal home for Delicious outside of the company where it can be resourced to the level where it can be competitive.
Thank you for listening and we hope Delicious finds a good home.