Updated on December 10, 2021
Apparently it’s been longer than I thought: one of the first big Web companies, Yahoo, turns 20 years old today.
A lot’s changed since 1995 for the Internet… and Yahoo’s changed as well. The company started off as the search engine of choice for the mid-to-late 90s, competing with AltaVista and Ask Jeeves. Yahoo offering free email particularly made it popular among users. Other services including GeoCities (host your own site!) and Flickr (host photos!) also helped.
Of course, times change, but Yahoo didn’t do as well as it should’ve changing with them. Google’s rise in the late 90s/early 2000s as a search engine that worked well helped, along with Google offering similar services (Gmail particularly). The rise of blogging (Google’s own Blogspot, LiveJournal, Tumblr, etc.) displaced the appeal of GeoCities. Yahoo was also late to move on the rise of mobile services, with others rising to prominence: Instagram and Google Photos (instead of Flickr), etc.
Recently, however, Yahoo’s managed to turn itself around thanks in part to its current CEO Marissa Mayer, after a string of previous CEOs. Flickr’s been revamped and is pleasant to use on mobile services, though a recent attempt to try to cash in on Creative Commons photos was ill-conceived. The company also bought Tumblr, which despite initial panicking by users, is still functioning as always, animated GIFs and all. Yahoo’s also still a popular email service.
As for its founding core service, Yahoo search won’t be infringing on Google’s popularity anytime soon. Still, Yahoo made a deal several years ago to replace its own technology with Microsoft’s Bing search, so Yahoo search is now just Bing with Yahoo branding. The company also made a deal with Firefox in late 2014 to become the new default search engine, which has helped slightly boost Yahoo’s search engine usage.
As for the future, despite concerns, Yahoo seems to not be in danger of going under as of this writing, though I don’t know what’ll happen in the long term.
Yahoo’s posted an anniversary message on (where else?) its Tumblr account.
For myself, I started using Yahoo early on, for email in particular, as well as its portal page (when those were a thing) and instant messaging. However, since the 2000s I’ve moved to other services like everyone else. These days, my Yahoo services usage consists of:
- Flickr: I still have my Flickr account, though I’ve moved to uploading my photos to Google+ Photos. However, Flickr’s still heavily used by me for its Creative Commons photos, something it’s much stronger at than Google+ Photos. Flickr’s other advantage over Google+ Photos is being easier to share photos across social media services.
- Yahoo IM: I don’t use instant messaging much these days, but at least one person I know still uses this service, so I still have it on my Mac (via Messages). Otherwise, it’d be much faster to contact me via, well, anywhere else (email, Twitter, Facebook, my site’s contact form, etc.).
- Email: Of course, I still have a Yahoo email address (per the above services), but it’s only as a secondary email I infrequently check at this point.
- Tumblr: I recently signed up for Tumblr, for the reasons I outlined here. So far, it’s been only a slight boost in traffic for the site, though better than Pinterest.
Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.