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Yahoo Starts to Hack Off Some Dead Limbs

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Updated: According to a leaked photo from an all-hands meeting at Yahoo (s yhoo), the web giant (which just finished laying off hundreds of employees) is planning to shut down several of its services, including the Delicious bookmarking site it acquired in 2005, as well as a Digg clone called Yahoo Buzz, and an early blog-based social network called MyBlogLog, which the web company acquired in 2007. In the all-hands slide, these are referred to under the heading “Sunset,” along with AltaVista — once a leading search engine — as well as AllTheWeb and Yahoo Bookmarks.

Update: On Friday, the company published a post on the Delicious blog saying that the service is not shutting down, but that there is no longer “a strategic fit at Yahoo” for it, and that the company is “in the process of exploring a variety of options and talking to companies right now” about finding a home for the service elsewhere.

The slide photo originally showed up on Twitter, posted by MyBlogLog founder and former CEO Marc Boutillier Eric Marcoullier, much to the surprise of Yahoo product manager Blake Irving, who suggested that the person responsible for leaking the photo would not be working at the web company much longer.

It’s not that surprising that Yahoo would want to close down most of the services mentioned on the “Sunset” slide — the older services such as AltaVista are so far off the map that many people probably aren’t even aware that they still exist, and very few of the new ones such as Buzz have gotten much traction, including the ones that Yahoo bought when they had well-established user bases, such as Delicious and MyBlogLog. The latter was one of the first prototypical social networks, built around the people who read blogs, allowing them to “follow” other users and allowing bloggers to see the traffic and links that were being shared by users. But Yahoo did nothing with it.

Delicious, meanwhile, was one of the first “social bookmarking” services, which allowed users to easily store bookmarks, but also allowed them to share them with others, to tag them with keywords and so on. But Yahoo did little with that acquisition either. Delicious founder Joshua Schachter said on Twitter after the news broke that he figured he should “hurry up with my simple [D]elicious clone so I can back up my bookmarks,” and also hinted that he may have unfinished business with the company that acquired his startup.

The loss of Delicious seems to be the one Twitter users are most concerned about, with many complaining that they have stored hundreds or even thousands of bookmarks using the service. Some traded names of other similar services such as Diigo, which integrates with Delicious, as well as Instapaper — which saves the entire text of a web page, but doesn’t allow for tagging and other features that Delicious has (Ethan Zuckerman, co-founder of Global Voices Online, posted a link to a list of ways for users to export their Delicious bookmarks.

Yahoo has been scaling back a number of its services, including Yahoo Buzz — which announced earlier this week that it was discontinuing user-voting options. The company also removed the ability to upload videos to Yahoo Video yesterday and said that any existing user-uploaded videos will be removed, although users will be allowed to download their videos until March. In a statement sent to a number of media outlets, Yahoo said of the reports about service shutdowns:

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.

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Post and thumbnail photo courtesy of Flickr user Trey Matula

18 Responses to “Yahoo Starts to Hack Off Some Dead Limbs”

  1. Perhaps studying the cast off remnants of Yahaoo would actually make an interesting MBA class case-study series.

    When you consider what the assigned Yahoo custodian managers collectively did to GeoCites, and their other expensive acquisitions, I’m now left wondering what the ROI numbers look like in hindsight…

  2. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Yahoo. In days past as a network tech I would set Yahoo! as the home page for people when I set up their computer. And if I forgot to do that, they would call and say something to the effect that they “didn’t have the internet” on their PC. Yahoo WAS the internet in the late 80s and early 90s.

    Google, take note of this cautiionary tale.

    I hope Yahoo’s management has a plan to increase their web share. I hear ablot about cutting and merging, but nothing visionary to lead them forward. That (apparant) lack of vision is what seems to have gotten them in this position.

  3. It’s sad to see Yahoo decline like this, but there is something to be said for going back to their core competencies. Yahoo needs to monetize their core business and ditch the non-essential services it has. Service breadth is nice when times are good, but Yahoo needs triage first.

    I send my support to the employees let go. I’ve been laid off from a company like Yahoo, and it was horrible being let go, but leaving behind the dread of “could I be next” was empowering.

  4. Bummer…
    I began using AllTheWeb back in the 90s when it was a great alternative search engine alongside Yahoo, Google, DogPile, Metacrawler, and HotBot. It was around the same time I abandoned Netscape (just after AOL bought and wrecked it) and started using Opera. Yahoo then bought AllTheWeb and made a still-usable front end for Yahoo Search with it. I’m sorry to see it go, I wish it would resume operations in Trondheim as a competitive search tool.

    Same with these other acquisitions, Yahoo should try to sell and divest instead of just abandoning them, some were actually decent ideas.

  5. I think this is kind of like watching them launch half-empty lifeboats off the side of the Titanic. Note that Fire Eagle isn’t being shuttered. Do they seriously think they are going to compete in the location space? They launched that, what? nearly three years ago? and did nothing with it. Yahoo MO. Every product is just like the Xerox STAR: They have no idea what to do with it, and someone will come along who does the same thing, only knows how to get it to users.

  6. Great synopsis. What do ‘you’ think about it all? Good move, bad move?

    Personally, I think these companies should learn the word ‘divest’. To often hot startups are gobbled up to then let rot and eventually shut down. There is probably a community out there that would maintain delicious if given the opportunity or related companies that would like to integrate their user-base.

    • I agree that it would be nice if more companies would spin things off rather than shutting them down, although I think from a corporate perspective spinning things off or open-sourcing them can be difficult for legal reasons (which Josh Schachter alluded to in his Twitter stream after the news broke).