End Of An Era: Yahoo Finally Killing Off Geocities

from the bye-bye dept

Just last night, I got into a conversation with someone about the rise and fall of various social networking sites. The key point was that they all seem to come and go -- and we were noting how MySpace and Facebook were following that trend. I brought up that it was the same thing that had happened in the past with SixDegrees and Friendster as well... when the guy I was talking to pointed out that I shouldn't forget GeoCities. In many ways, GeoCities was the original social network. It's where I got my very first website way back in 1996 or so (when the company was still called Beverly Hills Internet, and the service was GeoPages, not GeoCities). I learned HTML in order to figure out how to set up and manage my site on GeoPages (now long gone, of course). In 1999, Yahoo bought GeoCities for a bit less than $3 billion -- and, as big companies are known to do with hot startups -- did pretty much nothing with it (other than quickly laying off most of the employees and pissing off users).

I actually knew the site was still operating, because just a month or so ago, I came across the GeoCities site of a friend of mine who had first convinced me to use GeoCities -- and his page was still up, looking pretty much the same as it did in 1996. However, Yahoo has now announced that it will be shutting down GeoCities as part of its ongoing effort to consolidate and concentrate. Still, as Rich Skrenta points out, it's rather ridiculous to just shut down a property that gets 11 million unique visitors per month. Rich is offering to simply take over the site for Yahoo, promising to give them back 50% of any revenue. I wonder if others would want the same. Could you imagine a bidding war for GeoCities in 2009?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 1:51pm

    ...and nothing of value was lost.

     

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  2.  
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    Davis Freeberg, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 1:56pm

    Don't Forget About Angelfire

    Not sure if Lycos' Angelfire ever sold for as much, but that was my first web page. Wish I could remember the domain to go back and look at it, but it was something really funky like angelfire.com/biz2/redbaron/somethingorother/mypage.html

    Don't understand killing Geocities either, but maybe there are extra costs to serving up that many pages. Would be interesting to see a list of sites that Yahoo! overpaid for (ahem broadcast.com) to get a sense of how much they wasted on buying other people's first mover advantage.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Don't Forget About Angelfire

    I'd hazard a guess that most of the GeoCities pages are extremely dated and ugly by today's standards (at least in my experience of the few I've stumbled across recently). Because of this, they probably have lower click-through ad rates and it's not profitable to keep them running, especially since many web pages simply aren't updated any more.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I'd guess that most of the content is better served nowadays by blogs/Twitter/Facebook/whatever and only those of us with fond memories of it being the biggest game in town will even notice it's gone.

     

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    Anonymous Poster, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 2:22pm

    My first website was a GeoCities website. Without GeoCities, I might not have the interest in website development/HTML/CSS that I do now.

    Thank you, GeoCities. Go with God.

     

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  5.  
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    interval, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Don't Forget About Angelfire

    @Davis Freeburg: "Don't understand killing Geocities..."

    Because there are much better, easier, and technologically richer alternatives? You can actually get a free domain name with your free web space with many web service providers, and with up-to-date flash, java, php, & data base technology. FOR FREE. Just google "free web space" some time. Some are undoubtedly malware infectors, but not all of 'em.

     

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    Davis Freeberg, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re: Don't Forget About Angelfire

    There are also a number of sites where I can get free movies, but I still use Netflix. My point wasn't that I can't understand why people wouldn't use Geocities (seems pretty obvious given how crappy they are), it's why would Geocities want to shut down all of that free content for no reason? Unless the cost of running the HTML pages is greater then the ad revenue that they are making isn't it best to let sleeping dogs lie?

     

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    DJ, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 3:07pm

    THERE was a time...

    Ah '96.... This, at that time, failing college student hadn't quite braved the realm of computer technology (my first internet xp was with AOL :-[] ).
    I remember that practically every website that WASN'T a company -- and some that were -- was a geocities site. I, too, still see a few of those addies around, but most people are on sites like blogspot, etc.
    For those of us who've been around for the entire lifetime of the internet, losing geocities is a bit like losing your great grampa: you hate to lose him, but you always knew his time was coming.

     

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    batch, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 3:43pm

    That sucks

    I still use GeoCities.. not for my own page, that was Angelfire, but there is some person with a webpage about various home aquarium fish I reference because its still updated or was within the last couple years, and usually is at the top of my web search results, so others reference it too, it would seem.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 3:59pm

    Considering the only GeoCities links I've seen lately have been in spam...

    GOOD RIDDANCE!!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 4:19pm

    Oh No!

    Where will perverts store their kiddy porn now?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 4:29pm

    I'd say maybe a year ago I tried uploading some photos to an old geocities account I had so some family members could check them out. As I recall they were only able to look at about 4 of them before my bandwidth limit was exceeded, which meant I had less than 2mb's of bandwidth to use for a 24hr period. I haven't checked out if this ridiculous bandwidth cap is still in effect, but I can only imagine that many users at the time were turned away to other alternatives. The only addition to the service I ever saw were annoying popups that blocked out a good percentage of the content on my site. I find it hard to see how it can still be a wise business decision to keep GeoCities up and running when so many other competitors are offering much better services, and their customer base continues to diminish. With that said, it is still sad to see another pioneer of the days of old being laid to rest, farewell old friend.

     

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    Peet McKimmie (profile), Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 4:30pm

    So...

    ...Has Archive.org had time to back it all up yet?

    In fact, why not offer to donate the domain to Archive.org and let them keep the pages "live"? Better that creating millions of dead links overnight, especially to Geocities "reference" pages that nobody has ever seen the need to improve on.

     

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  13.  
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    Kenn Peters, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 5:37pm

    Lots of lost memories

    I hope there is some way for the not-so-tech-savvy out there to save those pages for themselves. My wife built her first website on GeoCities, a page mostly for our wedding. I know for a fact we don't have any of those particular images saved anywhere anymore, in addition to the plain old sentimentality of it.

    Hopefully someplace like Archive.org will have a chance to cache all of those pages, or people will be able to find places to move their site to easily, lock, stock and barrel.

     

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  14.  
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    DJ, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 5:50pm

    Re: Lots of lost memories

    There's good news for you: SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE has those images of your wedding backed up! :D

    or should I say :-?

     

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  15.  
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    Recovering Xoom User, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 11:18pm

    Cheer up, bucko, but the long road to recovery is rocky and sad.

    Even to this day, I occasionally burst into tears when I think back to the untimely closure of Xoom. I imagine others who use Geocities will look back to this day with a certain level of bittersweet fondness. Something akin to the bitter taste of a raw endive.

    Yes, things will eventually get better, just be sure to carry some tissue over the next year in case fond memories return and cause (sniff, sniff) an uncontrollable urge to reminisce...

    Oh god... Xoom, why did you have to leave us? Please come back. (tears) For the children.

     

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  16.  
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    Septeus7, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 11:53pm

    I remember playing around with it when I was in high school. Good Times...

    I'll sending it off while playing a Collective Soul song slightly rewritten. I though this was the best song for the first social networking site.

    The Webs now divides
    To bring you back into the fold
    Welcome home
    Still my need to recognize
    Any comfort you may show
    Only grows (slower)
    Guess I'll learn to accommodate
    While my browser just sits and waits
    Maybe Twitter you found
    Maybe is all that you can offer now
    Where am I to take refuge
    When the video swarms of P2P release
    Shelter me
    This costlyness of Second life
    Sometimes brings me to my knees
    I call on thee
    I have not the words to write
    A Farewell to you tonight
    Maybe Twitter you found
    Maybe is all that you can offer now
    I know geeks are weeping
    While your voice is now singing
    On high, angelfire on high

     

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  17.  
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    Xander, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 8:12am

    Burn a ghetto to sell a condo?

    This is such a poor move on Yahoo's part. Geocities might not be a cash cow, but it's still a relevant location on the Internet.

    Everything on Geocities calls back to a simpler time, but yahoo never took the system any father then when it begain. They became so sold on selling full "site" packeges that they did not and fully use the advantage of geocities in connecting it to User's profiles. It could of been the alternative to Blogger, (as many would conclude that is what many original Geocities pages where used for), and made Yahoo worth something again.

    As it is now though, even though people are saying that nothing of value was lost, the truth is that this is a very dick move by Yahoo to close their free service and only offer their lack-lustering paid services as an alternative.

    Congrats Yahoo, you continue to portray yourself as a the clique mega-corp that's completely disconnected with reality. (Without the money or influence of a mega-corp).

     

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  18.  
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    Christine, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 10:13am

    Re: Cheer up, bucko, but the long road to recovery is rocky and sad.

    Ah, Xoom! I remember the day my 4 disc Xoom web clip set came in the mail. That was like, 1997, and it opened up so many design possibilities for me (at the time, heh). I actually received two by accident and they told me to pass the other on to someone else. I'm feeling pretty nostalgic now. I still have that set somewhere.

     

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  19.  
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    Rekrul, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 12:27pm

    There are still a few old sites that I visit that are hosted on Geocities. I'll be sorry to see them go because I know the owners probably won't want to spend the money to upgrade to a paid web hosting company. However, in the last few years I've come to think of it as Geosh*ties. View a dozen small to average sized jpeg files and suddenly you get the message that the site has exceeded it's bandwidth. As another poster said, it can't be more than a couple megs. That's really pathetic.

     

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  20.  
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    Ivy le Jolie, Apr 24th, 2009 @ 4:19pm

    Geocities will be missed by many

    Before Geocities, there was Firefly. I always thought of it as the forerunner, the pioneer of social space and personal expression. Our alloted space was quite small, making the new service at Geocities seem very generous. When Geocities opened up the Enchanged Forest, I volunteered as a Community Leader, spending at least 20 hours a week for over 2 years assisting children with learning HTML and keeping my blocks free of porn. I built several sites in various neighborhoods on different topics. But now that is all over. I am feeling sad and nostalgic for the community we had there... it's a shame Yahoo won't just let the old neighborhoods live on and age gracefully, as a place where we can go and say "Remember when..."

     

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  21.  
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    godaddy, Oct 26th, 2009 @ 8:57am

    Attention former GeoCities users: $1.99 domains at Go Daddy, no additional purchase necessary! Expires 11/09. Use code GEO199. Hurry!

     

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  22.  
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    Jill, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 2:21pm

    Geocities and Free-Host sites gone

    The most popular free site hosts like these
    http://www.fortunecity.com (subdomains expired)
    http://www.geocities.com (subdomains expired)
    http://www.hostultra.com (subdomains expired)
    http://www.cjb.net (subdomains expired)
    Have died about 5 years ago

     

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