So this week I’ve been reviewing our Search Industry Event Timeline which forms part of our introductory SEO course at Search Engine College. I was struck by the sheer number of acquisitions made by search giant Yahoo over the past 20 years and how controversial some of those purchases have been for them.
So this week I give you: the Five Most Controversial Purchases Made by Yahoo.
Here’s this week’s Fast Five:
1) January 1999: Yahoo Acquired Geocities for $4.58 billion
In the 1990’s, before the rise of Content Management Systems and online web page builder services such as Google Sites and WordPress, there was Geocities. Everyone could have a web page at Geocities and populate it with as many animated gifs and flashing headlines as they liked. Yahoo saw the potential for eyeballs that Geocities presented and purchased the service for a whopping US$4.58 billion in stock in January, 1999, then proceeded to completely ignore it. The site finally died from neglect in 2009.
2) July 2003: Yahoo Purchased Overture for $1.63 billion
This purchase was a direct response to the growing success of Google’s AdWords paid advertising program. Originally known as GoTo.com, Overture was the first paid search advertising program and had no serious rivals until Google launched AdWords in 2000. Yahoo’s purchase included search engines AltaVista and AllTheWeb, which Overture had acquired just a few months earlier. Yahoo later rebranded Overture as Yahoo Search Marketing and ran it haphazardly until it became clear it was no rival for AdWords. In 2010, Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft morphed the program into Microsoft adCenter and the combined service eventually became known as Bing Ads.
3) March 2005: Yahoo Bought Flickr for Between $22 and $25 million
There was enormous outcry when Yahoo! acquired photo sharing service Flickr and its creator Ludicorp. The acquisition reportedly cost somewhere between $22 and $25 million and was announced almost casually on the Flickr blog. Most people agree that Yahoo’s purchase ruined Flickr forever.
4) December 2005: Yahoo Acquired del.icio.us for an Estimated $20 million
Online bookmarking service del.icio.us was purchased by Yahoo late 2005 for an estimated $20 million. The once respected social sharing site was left to flounder for 6 years, before being sold off to the founders of YouTube in April 2011.
5) May 2013: Yahoo Purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion
Yahoo’s purchase of blogging and publishing platform Tumblr in mid 2013 was met with shrieks of horror from the blogging community, who had witnessed the slow death of other Internet services purchased by the search giant. Announced directly on her own cutesy Tumblr, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer promised “not to screw it up”. Whether that happens remains to be seen. The most positive feedback I can find since the purchase is a comment from Tumblr founder David Karp who admits that Yahoo has allowed Tumblr to maintain independence so far. Although that may change soon because apparently Yahoo is trying to turn Tumblr into a competitor for YouTube.
I wonder what Yahoo will buy next?
*Image courtesy of Threadless.
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