Yahoo EVP & Chief Product Office learned today the lesson of discussing shutting down services via internal webinars and the sh!t storm it creates when it’s leaked online. The internal screenshot contained a list of what Yahoo services were to be sunsetted, sold or merged into other products was leaked via yfrog by MyBlogLog co-founder Eric Marcoullier and onto twitter. While the image is no longer available you can still see the thumbnail generated by AllThingsDigital shown below.
To show the true power of social media the image was viewed over 52,667 times, liked 38 times on Facebook and Tweeted 683 times but didn’t exactly get the typically company response. The leak angered Blake Irving enough to take a swipe at both Eric Marcoullier but also Joshua Schachter and threaten the staff member who leaked the screenshot, the response from Blake Irving proved interested enough for 20 others to retweet it, which has increased the interest around the story but taken the focus off the Yahoo product closures. Social media is a bad place to bring personal attacks or make snap statements without following up quickly with an official company post/article as early as possible to counter any negative press that might build up around your business decisions to close platforms.
Note that Blake has tried to back peddle on the issue with an updated post appearing by Chris Yeh on the Yahoo Developer Network blog covering what is next for Delicious, but why wasn’t this posted sooner or before the webinar went live? So all the focus seems to be around Delicious but what about the other platforms that are to be sunsetted including Altavista, Yahoo Buzz, Yahoo Bookmarks, Yahoo Picks or MyBloglog or are already closed like Geocities? It seems that a number of the services listed should have been merged, made into a Yahoo feature or sunsetted long ago as some haven’t been updated for over 3 years like Yahoo Picks.
Altavista was one of the web’s most popular search engines started back in 1995 but was passed around between companies eventually to be taken over by Overture Services in Feburary 2003 and then Overture by Yahoo in July 2003 where it was left to slowly die. Since December 2009 the average number of unique visitors has dropped from 878,000 to around 495,000 today according to Compete.com, which is a massive loss of potential for what was once a star. Altavista had one of the best image search functions and still has a very powerful translation service that could have been a challenger to Google Translate but was also left alone to die but hopefully will emerge again with an update in 2011.
My Blog Log had the makings of a serious way to tie both your online communities to you blog but the only sites that appear to have done much with it are AllFacebook.com and JohnChow.com who still use the platform and have a reasonable amount of members. It could have easily been expanded and developed into an embeddable widget like the Facebook news widgets or Facebook like buttons and built and expanded it’s community members to ensure the service was viable enough to continue. The number of unique visitors spiked at the start of 2010 with over 6,891,000 but has since dropped back to around 3,388,000 as of November 2010 and seems to be gradually falling according to Compete.com.
I have never actually ever used this service but it does seem like a valid platform to merge with delicious or even make it possible to share between the two platforms via a private API, but it might be too late to save this product as an individual platform. The platform has already had data merged once when MyWeb service was closed in 2008 and all the users were moved to Yahoo Bookmarks but it looks like they might be moved again, but how many people will have trust in the platform for a 3rd time?
Yahoo Buzz had the makings of a great platform which could rival Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Twitter and Google Trends but it was not effectively implemented to make it easy to use and failed to capture the attention of the social media mavens. It would have made sense to link Yahoo Buzz into more Yahoo properties such as Delicious and even it’s Chat and Email platforms to make it easy for people to share stories or track what is stories are trending, discussed and shared based on Yahoo’s massive audience base.
Yahoo picks was closed back in 2008 but it was also left there to slowly die off but showing some potential it does have 4 sharing options: email, delicious, my web and digg. While My Web was closed around the same time as Yahoo Picks they platform did show where the platform could have headed if it was allocated enough resources to compete and continue expanding it’s content and improving the interface. You can see at the bottom of the page the footer was last updated back in 2007 which showed the product was starved for resources long before it was closed down which is a shame.
Yahoo needs to think Data Portability!
This type of worry by the use of cloud based platforms like Delicious was covered in some detail in my previous post on data portability able to prevent the web 2.0 shipwreck created over the past few years occurring when platforms have been closed due to business models fading or companies getting bored with the mundane day to day running of their platforms. So hopefully delicious is made stronger by merging Yahoo Bookmarks, Yahoo Picks and Yahoo buzz into a single platform but that might take another few years at this rate….