Yahoo Is Totally Missing The Point

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,

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.

14 thoughts on “Yahoo Is Totally Missing The Point

  1. I wonder if Yahoo ever tried to sell, but couldn’t find a buyer.

    I’d actually consider paying a small monthly fee to use Delicious. It’s got hidden meta-power.


    1. Mark

      That is a very good question. I would think that Delicious would be an interesting purchase for some companies, and if it had some developer attention it could really become an even more interesting product.


  2. The really sad loss of the bunch is AltaVista. In the spring of 1995, Digital Equipment Corporation’s Research lab in Palo Alto, CA devised a way to store every word of every HTML page on the Internet in a fast, searchable index. This led to AltaVista: The first web search engine — the granddaddy of Google. It used a fast, multi-threaded web crawler (called Scooter) which could process many more Web pages than were believed to exist at the time. It coupled this with an efficient search back-end running on DEC hardware. As of 1998, it used 20 multi-processor machines using DEC’s 64-bit Alpha processor. The back-end machines had a total of 130 GB of RAM between them and 500 GB of hard disk space (total!), and serviced 13 million queries per day.

    The intent of the service was to showcase DEC’s then-powerful Alpha processor. In 1996, Altavista became the the exclusive provider of search results for Yahoo!. In 1998, Digital was sold to Compaq and in 1999, Compaq redesigned AltaVista as a web portal, hoping to compete with Yahoo! by offering shopping, web mail, etc. Until 1998, it did not have the domain. It was purchased for $3.3 million from Jack Marshall, cofounder of ATI (AltaVista Technology Incorporated), who had registered the name in 1994.

    That’s our big loss in all of this — a bit of Internet history.


    1. Fred,

      Bits of internet history are lost all of the time. This does not make it OK obviously, but that definitely happens. The sadder part of the AltaVista story is that most people probably had no idea that it still existed.


    1. Emory

      Like Mark said previously, why are they not actively shopping the service? I would assume someone would buy it at some cut-rate price. It does seem to be an odd thing to shut down something that popular without shopping it. It could be that they had planned to sell it, and this slide leaked before they started the process.


  3. It’s important to note that the information was leaked. Perhaps if the leak hadn’t occurred, we might have seen a future statement along the lines of “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.”

    Because of the leak, Yahoo was required to provide a statement RIGHT THEN HURRY UP WHY HAVEN’T YOU SAID ANYTHING YET GET A MOVE ON!!! And Yahoo, like any large organization, can’t get a fully coherent statement out all that quickly. There are too many sub-organizations that need to be consulted, too many factors to consider (the employees who work for Delicious/AltaVista/et al, the advertisers, the investment community, etc.). In such a case, and when you have to get a statement out RIGHT THEN HURRY UP, the safest course of action is to say nothing.

    Incidentally, you can see the same thing when looking at the Wikileaks information. The government papers that Wikileaks has released, and the banking papers that Wikileaks reportedly plans for release, are essentially the rough drafts of the policies of the various organizations. The Wikileaks papers, like the leaked Yahoo slide, are not yet ready for prime time, and have to be digested and considered more thoroughly before being released to the public. While the Wikileaks papers and the Yahoo slide are invaluable guides to what people may be thinking, they are not necessarily good indicators of what people actually planned to do.


    1. John,

      I understand your point about it being leaked before its time. My problem is that if Yahoo considers themselves a new media company for this new internet, then they need to be prepared for these kinds of things or just handle it better. The government and the military do not consider themselves a new media company, and have shown that they do not understand this new internet, so it is not a real apples to apples comparison.

      You can always say nothing of substance, but it just seems like they could have handled it better.


  4. The only thing I could think of regarding Delicious that that’s a really, very smart form of serching for the buyer.
    It’s gonna be a shame to lose this source, so I hope it’s just a leak to show the value of the resource to the potential buyer.


    1. Ellen

      Based on the reactions from Yahoo, I do not believe the leak was meant to show value. We did finally hear something from the Delicious team about finding a new home, and I have updated my post accordingly.


  5. […] the brouhaha regarding recent Yahoo! layoffs and shuttering / unloading several services (MyBlogLog, Buzz, delicious) had me thinking: I haven’t thought about Yahoo! in quite […]


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