With the announcement that Verizon is buying Yahoo! for $4.8 billion, I thought it might be a good time to briefly explore the tech giant’s history. From Stanford, through the dot-com bubble, and to the most recent CEO Marissa Mayer’s revamp of the company, Yahoo! has seen some changes – some good, some bad.
Founded in 1994 by Jerry Yang and David Filo, Yahoo! was originally a web directory – that is, a website with links out to other websites. Directories were a much more popular tool before the advent of broad-reaching search engines. They were so popular that the Yahoo! directory only recently closed in December of 2014.
1997 saw the birth of Yahoo! Mail after the company acquired Four11’s Rocketmail. This was quickly followed by Yahoo! Games, the acquisition of GeoCities, and Yahoo! Groups and Messenger. The company’s presence on the web was quickly becoming all-encompassing of the “standard” web experience – the ability to browse the internet, and communicate with others through a number of mediums.
While the website would continue to focus on communication tools by expanding email storage to rival Google’s GMail, as well as forming a Fantasy Football following, high-profile acquisitions were limited in the 2000s. While Google was busy climbing up the ranks and nestling itself deeply in the tech industry, Yahoo! catered mostly to its existing user-base.
In 2013, shortly after Marissa Mayer took control of the company, an all-cash acquisition was made – Yahoo! bought social media platform Tumblr. This was in an effort to keep up with web giants like Facebook and Google, who have a steady habit of purchasing low-revenue tech startups to keep tabs on the ever-changing environment of the social internet. However, the company has still faced economic hardship, has sold off intellectual property, and now, is being bought by Verizon.
Who knows – maybe this will be a move that revitalizes the Yahoo! brand. Or maybe we are nearing the curtains for one of the internets most prominent and long-running organizations.