Back in 2011, Matt Linderman wrote a harsh critique of Yahoo’s history of acquisitions. He found the company had spent $13.3 billion on more than 30 companies over the years, many of which vanished inside Yahoo’s bureaucracy. (MyBlogLog? Jumpcut?)
Linderman is worth listening to because he’s the founder of 37Signals, the company that makes work management tools like Basecamp and Campfire.
His company has a blog, Signal vs. Noise. And Linderman’s two-year-old post on Yahoo acquisitions is suddenly getting a burst of new life in light of the company’s $1.1 billion takeout of Tumblr.
It concentrates on the acquisitions of Flickr, Delicious, MyBlogLog, and Upcoming.
Of course, Yahoo got a new CEO, Marissa Mayer, after Linderman’s post. So this is all ancient history … right?
Here are a couple of highlights:
FLICKR: According to a worklog he [Flickr Architect Kellan Elliott-McCrea] kept in 2008-2009, 18 meetings scheduled over a 9 month period discussed why Flickr’s API was poorly designed and when it’d be shut down and migrated to the YOS Web Services Standard. He said, “That kind of stuff slows you down. Especially when you’re being starved for resources.” [Flickr lost a lot of users to Facebook’s photo-sharing service, but it was recently redesigned by Yahoo.]
DELICIOUS: [Founder Joshua] Schacter left Yahoo when his contract was up, in June of 2008. “I was largely sidelined by the decisions of my management,” he said after leaving. “It was an incredibly frustrating experience.” [Delicious was sold to AVOS in 2011.]
UPCOMING: Neil Kandalgaonkar, a former engineer at Upcoming, says acquired companies like Upcoming were “parcelled out to different parts of Yahoo where they were subordinate to the existing hierarchy and agenda.” He also argues there was a failure of vision. “The Yahoo model is to think of their sites as media properties with audiences, and bolder ideas like one social network encompassing them all was never a priority,” he said. “Even if top executives wanted to see revolutionary change at Yahoo, most of the organisation was set up to do deals with Purina Puppy Chow and to ask if Flickr wanted to create a special site for dog photos.” [Upcoming was shuttered this year.]
Read the entire post here.