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
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?