Thursday we learned that once-vibrant Yahoo! has finalized plans to divest itself of “non-strategic” and “under performing, non-core” assets.  The services headed to the chopping block include AltaVista, MyBlogLog, Yahoo Buzz and the social bookmarking platform Delicious.

To suggest that Yahoo! is hurting is not exactly a news flash.  But there’s hurt and there’s decimation. The company started by David Filo and Jerry Yang in 1994 – once the darling of the web – has been, well, shellacked.  Since new leadership was introduced in Jan 2009, we’ve seen layoffs, the sale of assets and general turmoil.  The place is a mess.  Adding to the Pigpen-like gray cloud of chaos surrounding Yahoo! is the dubious decision to chop Delicious.

Image representing delicious as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Why orphan a service like Delicious at a time when content creation, publication, distribution and curation are essential to the way we work and live, and destined to become more so?

What are the folks in charge over at Yahoo! thinking?  Any short term financial gain can’t possibly outweigh the long term potential for growth and innovation services like Delicious and Flickr offer.  A day rarely goes by when I’m not accessing the nearly 6,000 links I’ve tagged in search of a fact, a quote or a terrific resource.  Today, it was a recipe for scotcheroos, tomorrow it’ll be something to support the deck I’m building for an upcoming webinar.

It shouldn’t take a Ph.D to see where the potential lay for Delicious.  The service allows for private and public bookmarking at the item level.  Tagging is free-form and driven by a user’s own style, not some pre-determined categorization model.  There’s a group feature which allows multiple people to collaborate and share bookmarked resources – perfect for enterprise down to small businesses.  By subscribing to other users’ tag streams, you can further separate signal from noise.  Why sift through SERPs when you already know Kristina Halvorson is likely to tag the best stuff around on content strategy?  At its core, Delicious allows us to organize and segment information we find valuable and save it for future reference.  And on an endless number of topics, from personal to work related.

While I understand the necessity of streamlining Yahoo!, I don’t get why the Delicious service isn’t being reexamined for ways toYahoo! cannot innovateblaze a new trail.  What if Delicious cold relate users and tagged content to site analytics data or publish custom content feeds, or segment popular content outlets/creators in a way which could be used for marketing purposes?  Those things could be monetized.  I’m no tech scientist, but I know there’s untapped value to be found in Delicious.  Look at the cool-sounding CIThread service (h/t Paul Gillin) which learns curation behaviors from users and amps up their experience.  And I’m not even touching on the connection Delicious could help forge between brands and their user communities.  Does Yahoo! just not see it?  Can’t the company recognize a game-changer when they have one?

Delicious has been around long enough to have amassed a large, enthusiastic fan base.  At 126 bookmarks saved per minute (noted on the Delicious site at 1:20pm CST on Sat Dec 18), that’s about 181,440 per day.  In it’s current iteration, the service is a perfect tool for workshifters, content creators, the media and even your term-paper-writing kid, as evidenced by the amount of good stuff being saved (and I’m willing to bet that Saturday afternoons are generally slow, so that number is probably higher).

In this TechCrunch interview from May, Yahoo! CEO Carol Barts is reported as having said “Yahoo! is a company that is very strong in content.  We’re moving toward a web of one.”  And she went on to say in response to Michael Arrington’s question about whether Yahoo! was killing off any other web properties, “No, we’re focused now.”

Methinks Yahoo! focuses a bit like my grandma.  And they understand the role of content about as well, too.

Editor’s Note: Yahoo! has clarified they do not intend to completely discontinue Delicious, only to move or sell it off. Whether that means your bookmarks are safe or not is still unclear. We recommend backing up your data with a service like Backupify (former client) and perhaps switching your bookmarks to similar services like Diigo or Pinboard.

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About Heather Rast

Heather Rast

Heather is Principal of a boutique Cedar Rapids digital marketing company. She develops brand positioning strategy and marketing communications plans to distinguish small businesses from the competition and attract their ideal customers. Her content planning, writing, and online community-building work helps larger businesses better serve their audiences with useful information that solves problems as it builds affinity for the brand.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.famefoundry.com Charlotte Website Design

    This is an excellent article, Heather. As you point out, the likely decision to axe Delicious is unfathomable, given that most of the other major players in social media development (including Twitter, Google and even Apple) have turned their focus to providing new platforms that promote curation and facilitate discovery.

    Additionally, while Delicious is undoubtedly not a cash cow, what Yahoo seems to be missing is the value of its large and fiercely loyal fan base.

    They would be wise to take a lesson from the disastrous redesign of Digg about the dangers of abandoning your tribe, which is the cardinal sin of doing business in today's marketplace: http://www.famefoundry.com/216….

    • http://insightsandingenuity.com heatherrast

      And don't the folks at Yahoo! have to ask….having stepped in so many piles of poo, what are the chances that people will have *any* interest in anything new they may whip up and produce? It's not like creative thinking, commitment to user base, and planning ahead are its strong suits. I think it's safe to assume that the core products the company has decided to maintain (for now) are at risk too…I don't know that I'd keep using a Yahoo! product, seeing the portfolio fall around me.

  • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

    Nice article Heather. You opinion mirrors how I felt when I heard the news. How could this site not make money? Diigo, which I'm a big fan of, has a professional version. Seems like a professional version of Delicious could be an easy way to make some cash.

    • http://insightsandingenuity.com heatherrast

      Hi, Patrick. I was hoping you'd show up here, I'm beginning to recognize you as a SME regular :-), and that's a good thing b/c you always bring good points to light.

      I'm with you; in the “freemium” logic, isn't the idea to float solid product in order to create a user base which can speak to the capabilities while offering tiered paid models with increasingly more robust features? We see this work everywhere else in digital channels, why not Delicious? I'm hopeful the new owners – whatever company that may be – will listen to the backlash and kick some butt with it. Wish I had the dollars to do it.

  • http://KnowtheNetwork.com Keith

    First, thanks for including a screenshot of my tweet.

    Concerning Delicious' untapped value the opportunity is massive. As the social web races towards relevance and personalization it's more important than ever to be able to accurately judge a user's interests.

    In evaluating the the worth of a link social bookmarking is a goldmine. We judge worth based on shares and tweets but when I bookmark content I've given it even more priority. I may share 20-30 links on Twitter per week but my bookmarks are my goldmine.

    Take a social analytics service like topsy or bit.ly then evaluate those links based on bookmarks and tags and you can quickly determine the most valuable.

    I think Yahoo is completely missing the mark and some savvy investment firm stands to gain richly from the property.

    Enjoyed the post.

    • Cotton Rohrscheib

      I have to echo everything Keith just said. He and I are good friends and he knows that I am just about as devastated over Delicious as he was Friendfeed. I think there were several opportunities for Yahoo to monetize or even premium bundle Delicious that they missed the boat on…

      • http://insightsandingenuity.com heatherrast

        I read that Yahoo! management all but shut out the Delicious founders and early stakeholders. If true, then wasn't the company missing out on tremendous legacy learning? It seems as though the name of the game was “acquire” rather than “acquire for the potential offered, grow to realize the potential.”

    • http://insightsandingenuity.com heatherrast

      Hi, Keith. I hope you got my @reply this morning; your status update was the perfect complement to the post. I'm with you; in terms of influence indicators, a bookmark and tags are steps above a RT.

      Last night I found a post written by Alexandra Samuel who framed the missed opportunity up better than I did. Check it out: http://blogs.hbr.org/samuel/20

      Thanks again for your thoughtful comment. I'm glad you liked the post.

      • http://KnowtheNetwork.com Keith

        I most certainly did and thanks for the awsamuell link. Good to connect with you on twitter.

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