The fall out continues over the rumored move by Yahoo with regards to their social tagging service – Delicious. Add this to the news that Yahoo will be having a RIF along the lines of 4% of their overall work force and you do not have a good end of 2010 for the online giant Yahoo! The story that continues to have legs is the news that leaked out that Yahoo will be sun-setting Delicious, one of the many social bookmarking sites that many have leveraged – according to their Wiki page they have over 5 million users with 180 million unique pages bookmarked. While this is insignificant when compared to the 500millon Facebook users, it is nothing to sneeze at, especially in the greater scope.
Yahoo has been struggling since the early 2000s when it was seen, with AOL, as the Google or Facebook of its time. They were the new companies redefining how we searched for information, how we interacted with one another and how we communicated with the world. Yahoo mail remains one of the leading free email services, double the size of the likes of Gmail. Messenger permeates the instant messaging services. The portal remains a strength for Yahoo, its reader as one of the preferred aggregator of RSS feeds. Unfortunately, these assets are “old” they are stagnant. They keep Yahoo in the conversation, but too often it is a conversation about the difference between the new kids on the block – Facebook, Twitter and Google versus the old guard – Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL.
Yahoo has fought to try and reinvent itself, even exploring a merger with Microsoft – would have been an interesting merger of old guard technology firms. Yahoo has tried to revamp its search to compete with Google, with minimal success, Bing has been much more successful thrusting itself into the search game. Yahoo poured millions into a marketing campaign to make its brand important again…to minimal success. Yahoo has gone through a musical chairs of leaders. All the while watching their rivals Facebook, Twitter and Google grab all the attention. Microsoft remains a presence due to their Xbox, mobile platform and ubiquitous operating system. Even AOL has been quietly trying to redefine itself – purchasing a number of assets in the social media sphere.
Unfortunately for Yahoo, they appear to be moving in the wrong direction. The rumor that they will be selling off Delicious or shutting it down as well as a host of other assets smacks of a company that does not have a clear strategy for what it wants to be or where it wants to go. Rather they seem to be reactionary – only 5 million users we cannot support that profitably, cut it. We cannot figure out this search engine game, move on. Let us hunker down behind our toolbar and portal and hold out.
I have been a loyal user of many Yahoo services – messenger, email, finance to name a few. I hold out hope that the one time cool internet company finds itself again. They have some cards to play in the space, but I fear that time is running out. The move with Delicious is just another decent face card that Yahoo threw away rather than playing it aggressively.