My thoughts on Delicious and Yahoo!

Thanks Yahoo! Thank you for giving me a job, for teaching me loads, introducing a number of really great people – developers, marketers, financiers and others – into my network and for helping me pay off an insane amount of student debt. That being said, you’re screwed.

You’re screwed because you’ve shown that you don’t care about your users. The latest announcement to close delicious.com was the final straw and signal to the community that you just don’t get it. You don’t sunset a community, you open source it, spin it off, allow someone else to run with it, to do something with it, to monetise it – even if that means adding a small fee for people to use it. As my wife said when I informed her that you were closing delicious “That’s stupid, even I use it”.

I went to delicious.com and saw people had bookmarked the announcement from Techcrunch, but no post from yourselves, no notes saying how people can maintain their bookmarks or how you’ve worked with another service to allow people to move their bookmarks from delicious to whatever it might be. In the words of Julia Roberts, “Big mistake, BIG, HUGE”. Geeks are the ones who started using facebook when it opened itself outside of Harvard, geeks are the ones who started using twitter years ago, geeks are the innovative first users you need to get on board if a product is going to take off. Why did Buzz stink? It never took off because the geeks were all already using delicious. So if you get rid of delicious.com you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll never ever be able to launch a new product again.

Here’s how you can save your face, give delicious away, either make it open source or sell it to someone for a song (Waving my hand enthusiastically). Why am I so passionate about Yahoo! allowing delicious to stick around and not just letting users move to other services? Because the fact is that Delicious has a lot of users. It has active users and passive users. It has super active users who would be willing to pay a small fee annually, and other users who wouldn’t mind ads on it to keep it around. You’re leaving money on the table, and you’re not really helping anyone by closing off the service. Let’s say 10% of delicious users move to another service and 15% move to another service and 20% move to another service and the rest all start keeping their bookmarks locally (in all likelihood the % of users to move is likely to be waaaaay less) then that’s 3 communities that might be a little bit stronger, instead of the community on delicious.com that could actually provide real value to the internet and (shock, horror) to advertisers.

Look we get it, we understand you need to save some money and services like mybloglog and upcoming will need to bite the bullet, makes sense. Buzz as well – though why you invested in creating Buzz when you had Delicious sitting there I never did understand and was never able to get a straight answer from anyone on. We’re all for capitalism and for you trying to get back on your feet but please, please don’t kill one of the only things that gives you any credibility. What next Flickr? That just gives me the shivers.

So thanks Yahoo! for showing the world once again that you don’t really get it and thanks for getting me to get my butt in gear and to start writing on my blog again – 42 days is way too much, hopefully never again.

Disclaimer: I worked for Yahoo! for 3 years from 2007 to 2010 in London and in Rolle, Switzerland. I have not discussed this with anyone at Yahoo! I am no longer doing any consulting or any other work for the company and I don’t hold any Yahoo! stock anymore, I only have friends at the company and a love for the brand that was home to one of my first interactions with the internet.

  • http://game-changer.net Jorge Barba

    Farhan,

    I'm thinking we could pull an Xmarks. Us users demanded to pay for the use of Xmarks, they got bought out eventually and the service survived and users are happy.

    We need to get our loyal community of users together and 'request' to Yahoo that we pay for the use of Delicious. Have no idea how many people use Delicious (10M -30M?) but at $5 – $10 per user a month. That's some pretty good revenue to keep it going.

    Also this is a mine of information with a loyal following, someone (MS, Google) could come in and save the day!

    What do you think?

  • http://twitter.com/MacMacPherson Mac

    yahoo – dumb, dumb, fuckers… absolute dolts

  • Viktor

    I'm really baffled by Yahoo's decision. Especially, since they could easily monetize it with context-sensitive ads like Google does with GMail. (Or is GMail a money loser?)

    I'm really dependent on delicious. All my bookmarks live there, and it's especially handy to look something up when I'm at a friends. But what am I saying, you all know how great delicious is.

  • http://aqualung.typepad.com/aqualung/ aqualung

    Crazy thing – I'm paying (quite happily) for a delicious alternative (Pinboard) … would have been even happier to pay Y! for del.icio.us. I pay for Flickr Pro; would have paid for a del.icio.us “Pro” account. WTF is their problem? Despite its clear potential, Y! doesn't actually understand the internet/WWW, does it?

  • http://www.fiftybyfifty.com/lifeoffarhan/ Farhan Lalji

    I don't think you need to even charge that much to keep it going. A freemium model would definitely work and even 20/year+ads would lead to profitability I believe.

    I think the fact that there is a large number of #savedelicious tweets on twitter is a good start but I'm not holding my breath.

  • http://www.fiftybyfifty.com/lifeoffarhan/ Farhan Lalji

    I prefer misguided.

  • http://www.fiftybyfifty.com/lifeoffarhan/ Farhan Lalji

    I think Yahoo understands content and media – leftover of Terry Semel days. BUt I don't believe Yahoo! understands user behaviour and technology as much as it's competitors. I think a large part of that is due to hiring people who consume email and popular media but not much else online.

  • http://game-changer.net Jorge Barba

    Read somewhere that Delicious has 5M users so there you go it's definitely viable but like you, I doubt they'll do anything about it. What a tragedy!

  • http://game-changer.net Jorge Barba

    Read somewhere that Delicious has 5M users so there you go it's definitely viable but like you, I doubt they'll do anything about it. What a tragedy!

  • http://twitter.com/isofarro isofarro

    I don't believe that open sourcing or giving away delicious is going to be a decent long term solution. There are reasons why delicious stagnated as it did – it took two years for it's first post-acquisition overhaul – mainly reimplementing the entire stack in Perl.

    Since the news of delicious closing has been leaked, that means we (the social bookmarking community of users) have more time to put in place a decent alternative – more time than Geocities had.

    So instead, consider a federated solution – instead of taking a copy of one big behemoth, allow the core functionality to be federated through a basic API – create an environment where small companies and individuals can start with this base and innovate new features on top.

    The important pieces of delicious right now are:
    1.) A fully working export my data feature – already there
    2.) An eco-system of tools using delicious to store bookmark data
    3.) Our bookmark data.
    4.) The delicious API

    Instead of open sourcing the delicious site, focus on getting Yahoo's delicious tools open sources (the firefox extension, the chrome extension, etc.).

    Then creating a basic starting point of a common bookmarking API (based on the already heavily used delicious API), create a federated framework that other bookmark providers (existing or new) can start with or integrate with.

    Update the open sourced delicious tools to be able to switch providers (replacing the hard-coded api.del.icio.us domains with variables). And make sure data export and imports are working!

    That way we don't lose the functionality and utility of the tools within the delicious eco-system, and we move away from the problem of being locked into a “most popular service stagnating in a big company” situation. If one of the federated bookmarking service fails to stay fresh, it'll be easier to quickly switch without going through this particular pain point.

    By making switching providers easier, providers can focus more on introducing innovative features and fresh ideas. Making social bookmarking a more competitive industry.

    Of course, we'd need to avoid lockin, so basing logins around OpenId would help, as well as a potentially seamless moving of basic bookmark data from one service to another.

  • http://www.fiftybyfifty.com/lifeoffarhan/ Farhan Lalji

    Great points Isofarro, but I don't think it's a technical issue, I'm happy for whatever resolution we get. I think it's a business issue. Yahoo! needs to divest itself from the costs and invest in areas that it feels are growth areas. That means they don't believe social bookmarking is a high growth revenue driving area – where they could have a point. However packaging the delicious data and partnering with other sites could make delicious more than bookmarks, think of what paper.li and other content curation sites are doing, there's an opportunity for a small pivot to lead to greater growth, Yahoo!'s just too blind to see it. Sigh.