Money Matters - Simplified

Stop Yahoo! Before It Kills Again

The eviction notices are going out. Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) is telling GeoCities users to hit the road.

"After October 26, your GeoCities files will be deleted from our
servers, and will not be recoverable," Yahoo! warns, urging content
creators of the free, ad-supported Web-hosting site to pack up their
pages.

The coming of the wrecking ball isn't a surprise. Yahoo! made its decision to kill GeoCities six months ago. It was a dumb decision then, and it's even dumber now.

A lot has happened over the past six months that could have made Yahoo! reconsider razing its online neighborhoods:

  • After agreeing to hand over its paid-search business to Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT),
    display advertising will be Yahoo!'s primary focus. As amateurish as
    many of the GeoCities pages are, we're still talking about a ton of
    pages that Yahoo! could slap brand-marketing ads on. Why zap the
    servers?
  • Yahoo!'s new "It's You"
    marketing campaign is emphasizing its ability to deliver personalized
    online experiences. Feel the irony? You're soaking in it. Even as it's
    celebrating self-expression, Yahoo! is killing what may be its truest
    platform for individuality.
  • Yahoo! Mail is finally cashing in
    on its "dormant social network" status by tweaking its leading free
    email platform. It's also hoping to ride Twitter's microblogging wave
    with Yahoo! meme. But it's not easy to sway visitors to invest time and effort in a new platform if they see a dead end waiting down the road.

Storage and bandwidth get cheaper as time goes by. Examples in the
past year include the new hosting offers from such companies as Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Rackspace (NYSE: RAX).Why
is GeoCities going away? If Yahoo!'s willing to keep that cobwebbed
email message that's been sitting in your Yahoo! Mail account since
2002, why is it killing pages that actually receive outside traffic
that can be monetized?

Yahoo! is trying to convince GeoCities refugees to upgrade to its premium hosting platform, which it operates in cahoots with AT&T (NYSE: T).
That upsell offer represents Yahoo!'s final attempt to milk something
out of the $3.6 billion it spent on the site a decade ago. But the
stuff on GeoCities consists mostly of hobbyist pages. They're not about
to start paying $60 a year to host their Pokemon card collections or
Harry Potter fan fiction.

We've seen this movie before. Homestead.com used to be another popular community of free hosted pages. It now belongs to Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU),
with sites starting at $4.99 a month. Tripod.com is another Lycos-owned
darling from the 1990s. It's still around, but not as prolific as it
used to be.

Yahoo! is wrong to shut down GeoCities down, and there's really no
excuse for it to obliterate more than a decade's worth of user-created
content, either. At least keep that going, Yahoo! Show the social-media
world that you're not heartless.

 

© 2009 UCLICK, L.L.C.