The goodness that Yahoo has brought us is mostly gone

Back in November 2011, Yahoo’s then CEO, Carl Bartz was fired. I wrote about this event for ReadWrite.com (then called ReadWriteWeb). I thought it was worth recalling today, on the news that much of Yahoo’s core products has been sold to Verizon. 

Firing Carol Bartz made us go into the Wayback Machine to recall the many good things that Yahoo has created over its life. While there are many that are lining up to take shots at the Yahoos certainly justified, there are still some things worth noting.  (Below is an early home page, others can be found at ITworld here.)

Some of Yahoo’s developer services were way ahead of their time, and many of them are no longer with us (updated with 2016 information):

  • FireEagle (location services), one of the early geo-location services, before there was Foursquare and so many others. Still around, barely. Closed in 2013.
  • Hadoop (Big Data): Yahoo initiated and put up some heavy investment in this project. It is the go-to framework for big data and an integral part of Yahoo’s cloud businesses. Very much living and breathing, especially since  it has been taken over by Apache.
  • Delicious (tagging/shared bookmarks), one of the pioneers in tagging and early crowd sourced bookmarked recommendations of content, sold earlier this year to the founders of You Tube. Still here, but not top of mindSeems to be gone for good, despite a series of corporate maneuvers.
  • Yahoo Pipes (mashup tool), probably still one of the most useful development tools that anyone has ever invented. Pipes can manipulate RSS feeds and extract content from a variety of Web programming languages. Sadly, it was killed off in 2015.
  • Yahoo Query Language (programming language), a programming language that works across Web services, somewhat akin to what SQL does with databases. Still supported in 2016.
  • BOSS (build your own search service), open search and data services platform that can use Yahoo’s search technology. Wait, you didn’t know that Yahoo has its own search technology? Just kidding. Sill supported in 2016.
  • Blueprint (mobile site creation), it was an early effort in building mobile Web sites. Closed in 2011.

Yes, Yahoo was always a day late and a dollar short when it came to its webmailer, its IM client, and eventually its search service. But still, it has traffic. One Internet commenter said, “they should use their front page as a fire hose, projecting mainstream users onto these platforms” such as the ones mentioned above. Fair enough. And once upon a time, I thought their Yahoo Groups email list service was terrific: the last few years haven’t been kind to this service. And while my Yahoo email inbox seems perennially spam-filled, their financial and movie pages are top-drawer.

Many comments around the ‘Net seem to label Yahoo as an engineering company that can’t get its products marketed or gain any adoption. One said “Yahoo lost its motivation, its excitement.” Now it is has lost its CEO. Maybe Bartz’ successor can see their way towards a better future. Sadly, that last prediction wasn’t to be.

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