Yahoo! a directory which became a giant of multimedia
The term Yahoo! comes from the name of creatures in Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swith. Is is also an acronym of "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle".
Yahoo was originally a directory of websites. Then it became one of the first search engines, before the agreement with Microsoft that makes it give up this activity.
In 2008 the site had 1.5 billion visits. In early 2009 was still the most visited site, but according to Alexa, it is now overtaken by Google, Facebook and Youtube.
July 16, 2012, Marissa Mayer, former head of research at Google, has become the new CEO of Yahoo! It's a different culture that comes to the firm. She has clearly defined her project for Yahoo!: Focus on the user, ensure that all services are pleasant to use and inspire people. The program is to reduce bureaucracy, improve the UI of software, expand international presence. Search will be more customizable and will be a greater source of income.
The company was founded in 1994 by Jerry Yang and David Filo. The domain yahoo.com was created on January 18, 1995. The directory was previously a sub-directory at standford.edu.
The search tool of the directory was turned into a search engine gradually. In the late 90s, the site became a portal.
The acquisition of RocketMail in March 97 allowed the firm to create Yahoo! Mail.
In January 99 it acquires Geocities that was the third most visited site in the world, and so became a hosting company.
The mode of operation of Geocities was then changed that was close to a social network and that caused a mass exodus of users. Geocities (founded in 1994) was closed in 2009.
A takeover attempt by Microsoft in 2009 was aborted due to opposition from Jerry Yang. His replacement as CEO by Carol Bartz has facilitated an alliance between the two companies. The alliance with Microsoft has been approved by US and EU regulators in February 2010. Now search data come from Bing and no longer from the Yahoo! search engine.
Carol Bartz was fired on September 6, 2011 through a phone call.
In May 2012, Scott Thompson was forced to resign as CEO because of the scandal caused by the revelations on lying on his CV.
In July 2012, Marissa Mayer became CEO of the group and would inject a new spirit. She had left the direction of Google search - where she worked for 13 years - after the change of CEO in 2010. The idea of uncluttered page that has made Google's success was her idea, as well as the intuitive interface of Gmail. She has been hired by Google in 1999 as a programmer but her sense of design has influenced all company's products.
After a year of Mayer direction, the firm's revenues growth 4%, and are in progress for the first time in four years.
On 31 december 2014, the Yahoo directory is closed.
Infrastructure and software
Yahoo! has long been one of the largest users of FreeBSD, for its operating system. For its data, it has long used a customized version of MySQL.
It partially migrated to Red Hat, so Linux in 2005, and Oracle announced in 2007 that its version of Linux had replaced Red Hat at Yahoo! But this was denied by Yahoo! (and Red Hat), the two systems coexist. Yahoo! has hundreds of thousands of servers, and uses multiple OS.
It is looking for Linux experts in 2014 to build a new infrastructure.
For several years it uses Apache Hadoop, working in clusters to provide textual content and data. This is one of the largest user base in the world for this open source database.
The firm claims - in a job offer - maintaining one of the largest deployment of Node.js to run many services.
It uses OpenStack for its cloud services and many other open source software.
Yahoo! sites : We promise not to screw it up...
Yahoo! has four social sites with a very wide audience: Answers, Flickr, Tumblr and Mail.
On answers.yahoo.com, users ask questions to be answered by other net surfers. Then the first choose among the responses that they deem the best answer, which is actually the main difference with a forum. The site also offers a dictionary.
It has a builtin search engine that can find a question already asked and redirects directly to the best answer.
The site has become very popular even if the quality of answers is far to the best. Google has tried to emulate the service without success and then imagined different services: Moderator and Tipjar. (See Google Sites).
The site for sharing pictures is cited in the famous document: Ajax, a new Approach to Web Applications for its ease of use (Feb. 2005).
It was created by a Canadian company, Ludicorp, in 2004 so that user can exchange messages about a online game from the company, with the ability to upload photos. It was bought in March 2005 by Yahoo!
In 2008, videos have been added. The audience has been declining steadily since acquisition and it is dwarfed by competing images sharing sites. In 2012, its death was announced by Gizmodo. It was before the arrival of Marissa Meyer.
In 2013 the site was completely revamped with 1 terabyte of free storage for photos or videos with advertising or paid subscription for no advertising. It seems since to find a new growth. In 2014, it hosts 10 billion photos, and interest groups to get 50,000 new members per day.
The blogging and sharing platform Tumblr.com was acquired for $ 1.1 billion (instead of Dailymotion) on May 20, 2013. As we all know well the history of Yahoo! and the fate suffered by the sites it has acquired, particularly Geocities which was in fact comparable to Tumblr, Marissa Meyer has seen fit to reassure users:
I’m delighted to announce that we’ve reached an agreement to acquire Tumblr! We promise not to screw it up. We will operate Tumblr independently.
The animated gif on article referenced displays the message "Keep clam and carry on." It was a propaganda message designed by the English authorities when entering the war against Germany.
Tumblr was founded in 2006 to provide a platform of "tumblelogging" or microblogging, which consists of short texts, images or other contents to share and distribute. This does not prevent from writing long articles or the blog to have its own domain name.
Upon the purchase, the site has 105 million blogs.
A petition was launched for users to protest against the acquisition which has collected 168,000 signatures on the 20 May, which is low compared to the 10 million visitors a day.
Yahoo! has been developed also through many acquisitions:
- RocketMail in 1997. A free email service, it became Yahoo! Mail.
- Inktomi in 2002. A search engine.
- Altavista in 2003. Was owned by Overture. Is now a frontend to the Yahoo! search engine.
- Konfabulator in 2005. A software application that puts widget on the desktop, became obsolete when a similar tool was built into Microsoft Vista.
- Associated Content in May 2010. A website that pays authors if they are US citizens and mostly intended to generate advertising revenue with content produced in quantity but poor.
- In 2013, it tried to acquire Dailymotion, but the French government opposes that.
As of 8 February 2014, Yahoo! led by Marissa Mayer acquired 38 startups. 31 have ceased their activities. The virtual assistant Donna was closed one month after its acquisition. Vizify making infographics on Facebook content has also closed its doors. Sites that have not yet closed were acquired in the last two months. The services of these startups can be integrated with other Yahoo! sites or be totally abandoned.
Missed opportunities for Yahoo
The company had in its portfolio sites now abandoned that already were built from concepts that others took advantage.
- This site bought by Yahoo! in 1999 for $3.6 billion, was combining social networking and hosting. He could have become something similar to Facebook. Instead the social aspect was removed and the site limited to hostings only will be closed in 2009.
- That is the site which invented the principle of paid per click ads that have made the fortune of Google. It was bought by Yahoo in 2003.
- The technology that Google has implemented in its search engine in 2010, Yahoo already possessed it in 2005 and has never used it. See this article: Yahoo! could have launched Instant in 2005!
- Was bought for 5.7 billion in 1999 and was a music and video site Yahoo! which divided into services and it dropped into disuse.
- The first bookmark sharing site bought by Yahoo could have had the trafic of Twitter and Digg. It became popular under the name of del.icio.us. After having bought it, Yahoo! changed the domain name.
Users store favorites as on their browser pages to retain the URL and make the list public.
We can see the accounts and other users and so find interesting sites. The number of Internet users that have marked a page is displayed and is an indicator of popularity. In addition, pages that become quickly popular will go the home, which gives them a wide audience. It can happen even to old pages.
It never evoluted and in 2010, judging it not profitable, Yahoo sold it to the founders of Youtube.
- Bought July 2, 2013, this mobile application transforms photos into videos. It is dropped by Yahoo on November 1 2014. Dailymotion might have suffered the same fate.
Finally, some companies have no vision of the future. Maybe the policy of the company changed in 2012 with the arrival of the new CEO coming from Google. Yahoo! is now focused on the mobile market and want to restart a search engine and its acquisitions go in this direction but these statups are used as a simple material. The future (and mainly that of Tumblr) will said.