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?
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 Delicious, Shine, Research or of course the popular image community Flickr.
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.