One way to gage the popularity of a product is to propose killing it. Coca Cola found that out the hard way. Now Yahoo has discovered it too with its ill-conceived move to "sunset" the popular social bookmarking site Delicious. Unlike Coke, though, it has only taken 24 hours for Yahoo to change its tune on Delicious.
In an unsigned solicitous message posted on the Delicious blog, the company declared: "No, we are not shutting down Delicious. While we have determined that there is not a strategic fit at Yahoo!, we believe there is [an] ideal home for Delicious outside of the company where it can be resourced to the level where it can be competitive."
"We're in the process of exploring a variety of options and talking to companies right now," it added. "And we'll share our plans with you as soon as we can." Or, considering how the original news reached the public -- a leaked slide from a company web cast -- until another embarrassing revelation occurs.
What options for Delicious are available to Yahoo? One suggestion by Chris Dixon, co-founder of the personal recommendation site Hunch, is to make the site an open source project. That idea has been rapped via Twitter by Joshua Schachter, the original creator of Delicious who sold it to Yahoo in 2005.
Although Schacter sees difficulties for anyone thinking of buying Delicious from Yahoo, he's playing coy about repurchasing the service, which is ranked 255 in U.S. web traffic by Alexa. He told Dan Frommer, at Business Insider, that he's "not sure" what he's going to do and is waiting for things to develop.
Whatever Yahoo does, this latest gaffe suggests that the company knows more about counting beans than the value of the beans it has. It also suggests that Web 2.0 is a thin veneer for Yahoo. Scratch it, and you'll see its Web 1.0 origins.
As Alexandra Samuel wrote today in her Harvard Business Review blog, "The Web 1.0 boom was based on an old standby, perceived shareholder value. The web 2.0 boom is based on something that is, in principle, much more durable: user-generated value." If Yahoo understood that, the Delicious debacle would have never happened.