Yahoo! Search is now Bing.

Everybody knows the hip company with the exclamation mark. But only a few know that it was one of the first companies, if not the first company who proposed to search on the Internet. Basically, the original Yahoo Web service searched their own indexed catalogue; a compiled link list founded by Jerry Yang and David Filo. It's one of those success stories like that of Bill Gates' or Steve Jobs' StartUp in beginning from their garages.

Yahoo! went public in 1996, two years after the firm was founded, whose name is an acronym of a strange wording Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle. What was then a firm with 40 employees became one of the biggest Internet companies before and after the Dot Com Bubble Burst on March 10, 2000. Names like Hotmail, GeoCities or AOL were all more or less involved in the crash. Yahoo for e.g. bought GeoCities for an enormous amount of $3.57 billion, while GeoCities actually made a loss of $8 million. What could have been an early Facebook, was in fact destroyed by unpopular traffic limits and a change in the URL naming structure. Users were abandoning the new GeoCities. Yahoo finally closed GeoCities in 2009. The Internet Archive started saving GeoCities pages before the shutdown because "GeoCities was an important outlet for personal expression on the Web for almost 15 years [..]". I remember very well publishing my first web pages to GeoCities, who doesn't?

Not all acquisitions of Yahoo! turned out to be unprofitable. Yahoo! acquired Oddpost who pioneered the use of JavaScript to mimic a desktop application. This technology, later named Ajax by a blogger named Ajaxian was implemented into the service which is today known as Yahoo! Mail. Google made extensive use of these concepts which are for e.g. enabling drag and drop within a browser or fetching data stored on Google Computers without reloading the browser.

Yahoo! also acquired eGroups in 2000 for almost $0.5 billion. eGroups initially turned down an Excite offer in 1998 for $40 million and accomplished to grow its business significantly due the course of only two years. Their services are today better known as Yahoo Groups. Other great Web Sites in Yahoo!'s extensive portfolio include DeliciousShineResearch or of course the popular image community Flickr.

In late 2008 after immense pressure of Yahoo!'s stockholders Jerry Yang stepped down as CEO of Yahoo!. His actions were criticized when Yahoo! was on the verge to be taken over by Microsoft for $40 billion. Carol Bartz, former CEO of Autodesk which produces the industry standard software AutoCAD was nominated, as the new Executive Officer of Yahoo!. She managed to give Yahoo! a complete visual overhaul in 2009. The company today has a market share of 17% in the US in display advertising. Its newly declared vision is to be in the center of the people's social live. Consequently in recent years Yahoo! services became available on the Apple iPhone, on Android mobile devices via HTML5 browser technology or on Sony Bravia TV's via a service called Yahoo! Connected TV. In spite of the trend to isolate yourself from the competition, Yahoo! integrated Facebook, Twitter or Ebay on its frontpage, which follows a long tradition of opening sources to competitors (Search Monkey) or substantial contributions to open source software like the JavaScript language by Douglas Crockford or the free Yahoo! User Interface Library.

Yesterday, under the reign of Carol Bartz Yahoo! successfully merged its search engine operations in the US and Canada with Microsoft Bing. This marks the end of an era, that was basically invented by Yahoo! 15 years ago. The era of Web 1.0 and the classic Web surfer.

It will be interesting to watch wether Yahoo! will be the next Lycos or succeeds in transforming itself to a global infotainment giant.