Over at Quora, Tripline founder and CEO Byron Dumbrill answers the question, “Why did Delicious fail?” Dumbrill joined Yahoo in 2006, about nine months after it acquired the bookmarking service, and his explanation corresponds with what we’ve been hearing for several years about its fate. Delicious was back-burnered while the company focused on Yahoo Bookmarks. It was a second class citizen, a fact that Yahoo tacitly acknowledged in its statement earlier today when it said that Delicious needs a home where “it can be resourced to the level where it can be competitive.” Dumbrill talks about that internal competition in his full answer after the jump.
I didn’t get to Yahoo! until 2006 (about 9 months after the del.icio.us acquisition), and I was super-excited to see what the plans were for del.icio.us. I felt honored to be in the same company as the del.icio.us guys and people I talked to said they were working with the search team. That seemed right. Then I saw a roadmap for an upcoming Yahoo! Bookmarks 2.0 release and was confused. Being naive, I talked to the Bookmarks PM and asked him why they were releasing a new version of Bookmarks when they had del.icio.us. Wouldn’t it make more sense to turn del.icio.us into Yahoo!’s main bookmarking service and begin moving it towards mass-market adoption? The answer was something like “Actually, the products are different. Bookmarks is targeted at mainstream users and del.icio.us is more of a sharing solution for a technology-focused crowd. etc. etc.” I was even more confused.
After being at Yahoo! for a while longer, I realized that the translation of that answer was “Deli.cio.us is in a different organization, and we weren’t behind the acquisition, so we’re going to push forward with our product even though it does the exact same thing.” In essence, that’s the main problem with Yahoo! product management.
Is Yahoo really going to try to sell off a system that contains private data to another company after it is rumored to have fired all the people who knew how to operate it? Unlikely. Will they keep it on life support until they can try to shut it down in a few more years, assuming fewer people will care? That seems likely.
Co-byline: Marshall Kirkpatrick