Last week news leaked out of Yahoo’s corporate office via Twitter that the struggling web company was planning to “sunset” several of their services including the social bookmarking site Delicious. The news that Yahoo was planning to shut Delicious down was quickly picked up by tech bloggers. And that prompted a rapid-fire response blog post on Delicious.com denying Yahoo’s intention to shut the service down.
You see they are planning to sell the service, not shut it down.
I’m skeptical on that score. That’s probably because I once rode a company into oblivion all the while buying into everything corporate said about how we were going to be sold. Having been down that road, that blog post seems like a ploy to protect Yahoo’s stock value to me, especially when people in the know seem to think a sale is very unlikely.
It seems Yahoo just laid off most of the Delicious team. And then there’s the pesky detail of a ton of proprietary software deeply intertwined in the Delicious underlying code.
For those of us who like to be able to find interesting things sometime down the road, being able to bookmark stuff online is a great idea. Before I started blogging in 2005 I really didn’t have much of a need for web based bookmarking. My browser could handle it all.
But once I started spending more time online it didn’t take long before my browser’s bookmarks folder became unwieldy. Enter Delicious. Or, as it was known at the time Del.icio.us.
It had a funny domain which in a weird way made it easier to remember.
2005 was also about the time that the service was sold to Yahoo for an undisclosed amount. Most estimates I’ve seen were in the $30 million range. Last year the site’s founder said he regretted the sale to Yahoo.
Basically it was a good solid simple to use service that Yahoo purchased and then pretty much neglected to the point where they are looking to unload it one way or another. Of course along the way they changed the domain to delicious.com for good measure.
Why Should You Care?
It sounds like just a sad web 2.0 story. Why should you care?
Here’s the thing. For those of us who have come to rely on Delicious to keep track of our bookmarks it’s an inconvenience to now have to find a substitute service. Not that there aren’t plenty of them to choose from these days. I could list more than a dozen alternatives out there right now.
So, OK. It’s a minor inconvenience.
But what if…
What if, instead of Delicious, it was a service that my business depended on?
For example, I regularly see businesses which the only meaningful web presence they have is on Facebook.
Relying on a third party like that is risky (at the very least!) Sure Facebook is a behemoth and they are unlikely to go anywhere any time soon. Probably. But they are notorious for changing their policies in an almost whimsical fashion.
And they’ve gone from a niche college networking site to the second biggest website in the world in just a few years. What’s to say they might not fall off just as fast?
Stranger things have happened.
Do you really want your organization’s web presence to stand or fall on the whim of another company that you have no control over whatsoever?
I didn’t think so.
The Delicious Lesson
The lesson from this whole Delicious affair is this. When it comes to your own organization, whether it’s a business or non-profit, it is critical that you maintain a strong home base of operations in website that you own (i.e. on your own domain) so that you are not completely at the mercy of some other company’s decision making process.
If a periphery service (such as Delicious in this case) changes or ceases to exist you can adapt.
But if you’re foolishly relying on a social media site to be your main web presence, don’t be surprised to one day they change the rules on you. And that will be much more painful to cope with.
Oh, and I think I’ll be moving my bookmarks over to Diigo for now. What bookmarking service do you like best?