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July 4, 2017

Buh-Bye, Yahoo

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

Of all the early search engines — and I’m referring to the mid-1990s, before Google and Facebook — Yahoo survived. It beat out Lycos and Webcrawler, and a host of other early Web search engines.

Actually, search engines didn’t exist as such back then. They were “catalogs” that listed web pages. Yahoo is significant to me because I put this website, Wambooli, up on Yahoo’s catalog just before they banned submissions. (It was a sign!)

Back then, you would submit your site to Yahoo and they would list it in a category. I set the wrong category for Wambooli, but they wouldn’t let me change it. I received a firm-but-polite email saying that submissions were no longer welcome and Wambooli would stay wherever I mislaid it. Yahoo was changing, they promised.

Eventually Yahoo became a search engine, perhaps the most popular before Google dominated. And Google had a great opportunity, because Yahoo also wanted to be a community, ala AOL. So searching was only one of the items on the junky Yahoo home page. Google was far cleaner and enjoyed by all the cool kids for that reason.

Still, in the late 1990s, AOL was big back. In fact, most Internet users at the time browsed the web from within the AOL program. It was nuts! Yahoo wanted that action, but lacked the subscriber base. Still, Yahoo survived, probably on the momentum of being long-lived (in Internet time) and well-known.

In 1998, Google offered to sell themselves to Yahoo for $1 million. Yahoo said, “No.” I believe their corporate mentality was to emulate AOL and not focus on web-searching. Perhaps even Google didn’t see the potential for web searches, not as a resource for users but to build a marketing database. Anyway, Yahoo said “No,” and I would agree with them back then.

By 2002, the Internet dynamic had changed. Yahoo offered to buy Google. They upped the price 3,000 percent. But Google, now seeing the future, didn’t want $3 billion for the company. No, they countered with an offer of $5 billion. Yahoo declined.

In 2008, Microsoft — always late to the table — was looking to make a bigger dent in the Internet. They offered to purchase Yahoo for $40 billion. Yahoo said, “No.” I’m not sure which corporation was being stupid here, but Microsoft definitely benefited by not absorbing the turkey.

Absorbing. AbsorBING. Bing.

And now, in 2017, cellular behemoth Verizon has purchased Yahoo for $4.6 billion.

Put in perspective, Verizon picked up Yahoo for 1/10th of what Microsoft offered 8 years ago. The price is just a wee bit less than what Google wanted from Yahoo in 2002.

Verizon isn’t my favorite company. Like many oversized beasts, they’re slow, rude to customers, and out-of-touch. So buying Yahoo makes sense. I just hope they don’t shove Yahoo-everything down our throats.


  1. Being an early web user I remember Yahoo, I didn’t realise the pages had to ‘submitted’ (which probably explains why it did give that great a result). The only real impact it made this side O the pond was some silly TV ads which caused my parents to think when I searched for something I ‘Yahooed it’….

    Comment by glennp — July 4, 2017 @ 4:16 am

  2. I don’t watch much broadcast TV, so I don’t remember seeing a Yahoo television ad. Despite it’s longevity, I think Yahoo has always struggled to find a place.

    Comment by admin — July 4, 2017 @ 5:43 am

  3. I’m in the UK so maybe it was a Europe only did TV ads…

    Comment by glennp — July 4, 2017 @ 1:18 pm

  4. I wonder whether Yahoo had a larger impact in the UK and outside the US? The big beast here at the time was AOL, which of course was AMERICA Online. I’m not sure whether AOL had overseas versions or not. And AOL is another one of those colossal failures. At one time, AOL gobbled Time-Warner. Now AOL is a footnote. I’m sure someone inherited its bones.

    Comment by admin — July 4, 2017 @ 1:33 pm

  5. Yup! we has AOL here branded as AOL, they gave away CD’s with there stuff on ‘free’ with modems and at one point free with each mail delivery!

    Comment by glennp — July 4, 2017 @ 1:49 pm

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