As Yahoo Crumbles, Delicious Will Be Sold … Or Donated?

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Last night, it seemed as if social bookmarking site Delicious was to be shuttered by Yahoo, and the blogs lit up with the usual pomp and circumstance – but it wasn’t true. At least, not exactly. After a steep round of layoffs, Yahoo is looking to drop Delicious, but will cut it loose to stand alone instead, a stay of execution for the portable bookmark. (Update is appended.)

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In most ways, this a great opportunity for Delicious. Aside from a 2.0 launch, site has done little updating since it was bought by Yahoo in 2005, which leaves me wondering if Yahoo was unwilling to put more funds into its investment after the departure of founder Joshua Schachter, which as slightly small time as the site may seem now, it was – and is – a pretty neat idea. The site promised that it wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, a post on the company’s blog made it clear that it has no post breakup home. “We’re actively thinking about the future of Delicious and we believe there is a home outside the company that would make more sense for the service and our users,” the company said in a statement. “We’re in the process of exploring a variety of options and talking to companies right now. And we’ll share our plans with you as soon as we can.” (Note: A “FOR SALE” sign is sure to follow.)

In the meantime, this info blip is just further proof of how hopeless Yahoo has become. TechCrunch has declared that the company has finally “hit rock bottom,” and really, it’s no wonder. Things haven’t been good for Yahoo for years, as some of the company’s top executives began to jump ship. Former senior vice president Brad Garlinghouse’s now infamous “Peanut Butter Manifesto” reads sadly prophetic, a warning about company’s failings that no one seemed to take to heart.

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So what to do? It seems like a rumored merger with AOL is currently out of the question, and in a way, watching the once-kings of the dot-com boom is sad – slow, public deaths are never a pretty sight. Things could be salvaged. We could all be wrong. But in all likelihood, Yahoo is heading straight to the junkyard. Yahoo fans, say your goodbyes soon, before the entire thing is salvaged and sold for parts.

UPDATE: Former Delicious product manager Stephen Hood says that while Delicious is savable, it’s probably not going to continue on in the same capacity. “As I write this it is still not entirely clear what the real story is, but regardless Delicious is in peril,” Hood wrote in his blog, suggesting that plans for the site could range from a straight sell to donating the site as a museum resource.

Though Hood reasons that selling the site to a third party would be the most beneficial outcome, there could be challenges. “During my time at Delicious we rebuilt the entire infrastructure to deeply leverage a number of internal Yahoo technologies,” Hood wrote. “It’s all great stuff but not exactly easy to remove or replace.  Yahoo may have to license some of this technology to the buyer. I’m not sure they’ve done that before.” He also flirts with the idea of open sourcing the site, but ultimately decided it would be a huge effort on part of the site for too little a financial payoff.

The most unexpected of Hood’s theories came in the suggestion of donating the site to The Smithsonian or The Library of Congress. “While it is folly to assume either of these institutions could take over Delicious and keep it running as a viable service, it does seem like they would be interested in preserving the Delicious corpus and making it available for research,” he wrote.

It’s so clear that those involved with delicious (past and present) are lobbying behind the site, and ultimately see value in its maintenance, but things this won’t make things any less grim if a donation seems like a viable business decision.