I ran across a short note on Mashable yesterday announcing that Yahoo will be closing GeoCities this month. While the post rightly notes that GeoCities was one of the first social networking sites, that’s not what I first thought about when I read the news.
What I thought of was this:
In January 1999, near the peak of the dot-com bubble, Geocities was purchased by Yahoo! for $3.57 billion in stock, with Yahoo! taking control on May 28. The acquisition proved extremely unpopular; users began to leave en masse in protest at the new terms of service put out by Yahoo! for GeoCities. The terms stated that the company owned all rights and content, including media such as pictures.
Yes, you’re reading that right. Yahoo paid 3.5 billion dollars for an online community, then one of the first things they told every user in the GeoCities community was that Yahoo now owned all of the content on each and every GeoCities web site. In the business world this type of decision is known as the dumbest thing anyone has ever done. [ Read more ]