Downfall of Yahoo: The story behind losing the ‘Crown of the Best’
Currently, in the world of Internet, there are more than 140 search engines. Let alone using them all, how many names of these search engines are known? Most of us know Google as a search engine, but those who have a long association with the Internet and have been using the search engine for a long time will want to keep Yahoo! alongside Google. Because once this search engine ruled the world of the net.
In 2005, Yahoo! was one of the most popular websites in the world. Just as we use Google Mail or Gmail today, back then, most people used Yahoo! Mail. Yahoo Mail also topped the list for a few days in 2011. But gradually, Google seemed to snatch everything from Yahoo!. Finally, in July 2016, Yahoo! agreed to sell its core business to US telecommunications company Verizon for 4.48 billion dollars. Forbes author Brian Solomon called the deal one of the saddest in the technology world.
We all may know about the downfall of Yahoo!, but our knowledge is little about its glorious days. Let's find out the story now. Yahoo! began its journey in 1994 with two Stanford University electrical engineers, David Filo and Jerry Young. But in the beginning, the name was not Yahoo!. David and Jerry named their website "David and Jerry's guide to the World Wide Web." The website was renamed "Yahoo!" in March 1994. At that exact time, the whole internet world was scattered. So, the primary purpose of creating the website was to create a directory of websites like a telephone directory. At that point in time, the website of two new graduates was one of the most significant efforts in technology.
Although the World Wide Web suffered from a lack of recognition at that time, Yahoo! quickly gained popularity in the 1990s. When Yahoo! first made a public offering in 1996, it was valued at about 900 million dollars. If you stick to the right place at the right time, you will be successful for sure, and Yahoo proved it! Over the next couple of years (or three years), the company's stock rose was about 600 percent. By mid-1998, Yahoo! had added various services, including email, shopping, games, traveling, maps, weather, and online magazines.
Shares of Yahoo! rose to 40 billion that year. Yahoo! Continued its journey at the speed of a storm. The company soon made it to the top of the technology market by providing search engines and free email services. But even then, Google has not started its journey. No one could have imagined that the bad days are ahead.
Yahoo's times were like waves - sometimes up and sometimes down. Yahoo's net worth stood at 125 billion in 2000, the highest in the company's history. Soon after, the dot com sites started gaining immense popularity, and the prices also increased tremendously. This is called dot com crash or dot com bubble. The value of Yahoo! was slowly declining due to the high cost of these sites. In just two years, it dropped from 125 billion to 10 billion in 2002, and this was only a shadow of past glory.
The services we are receiving today, such as YouTube and Facebook, were born out of Yahoo!. Broadcast.com was a platform like YouTube, which later became known as Yahoo! TV. There was also Flickr like Instagram, Yahoo! Notebook like Evernote, and Yahoo! Music was Spotify. But where did they get lost?
There may be various theories behind Yahoo's downfall, but everyone will agree that Yahoo's decisions were grossly flawed. Yahoo's mistake is also responsible for Google's position today.
In 1998, two Stanford Ph.D. students went to Yahoo! to sell their algorithms. Yahoo! didn't think it was reasonable to buy that algorithm for 1 million. Who were those two young men? Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Thanks to the page rank algorithm they created, we get the desired thing as soon as we type a word in Google.
Larry and Sergei offered to sell Google to Yahoo! even after Google was well established. However, the then CEO of Yahoo! Terry Semel, did not take it seriously. Google's value had risen to 5 billion when the CEO of Yahoo! came to his consent! Around that time, a 22-year-old man who turned down Yahoo's offer was Mark Zuckerberg. Yahoo wanted to buy Facebook for 1 billion, but Zuckerberg refused to sell.
In the buying sector and selling, Yahoo! failed to make the right decision. In 2008, Microsoft expressed interest in buying Yahoo! for 44.6 billion, much higher than its current value. But then that too was rejected.
In 1999, Yahoo! made two famous acquisition deals, regarded as one of the worst in technology history. One is GeoCities, and the other is Broadcast.com.
At the time, GeoCities Internet was the third most searched site in the world. In 1999, Yahoo! bought GeoCities for 3.7 billion. This allowed users to create their homepages on the Internet. It also gradually lost its users due to a lack of proper management and innovation and was discontinued in 2009.
In the same year, Yahoo! bought online video streaming service Broadcast for 5.7 billion. Yahoo! later launched separate music and video service from Broadcast. The Internet at that time was prolonged for video streaming. Logically, the broadcasting system was ahead of its time. Although Yahoo could not manage properly, the Broadcast founder, Mark Cuban, made a name for himself.
In 2005, Yahoo! bought photo-sharing site Flickr for 30 million. They tried to turn it into a social media site but failed due to poor management. The main intention was how to survive without innovation. In the same year, Yahoo! bought a 40 percent stake in Alibaba. This later saved Yahoo! from bankruptcy, and the current value of this percentage is about 50 billion.
But why did so many failures surrounded Yahoo!? Because no CEO of Yahoo! was ideal. From the beginning, no one had a clear idea of how the company would be run. They were not a 'Search company,' nor a 'Tech company.' Yahoo was a media company that had the technology to make a profit. Employees were also responsible for the failure, along with the CEO. Yahoo! was full of unskilled workers. As a certain result, they have not been able to innovate in any sector. As of 2015, Yahoo! had acquired 114 companies, none of which could be its glory.
Former Google employee Melissa Meyer was appointed as the CEO of Yahoo! in 2012. This is the only one in the history of Yahoo! that could bring the company's glory back. But it was too late for Melissa to arrive. Melissa also failed to give proper direction to the company that lost everything, and finally, in 2016, Yahoo's internet business came to an end and Altaba Inc. was formed with the rest of the company.
Yahoo! is a real example that a billion-dollar company that could collapse if it doesn't keep up with the flow of technology. Philo and Young have undoubtedly created praise, but they have not managed Yahoo! properly. Wrong decisions and mismanagement have ruined Yahoo's existence. The wrong steps taken by Yahoo! will be instructive for any technology company.