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When Yahoo nearly saved the world from Facebook

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This article first appeared on thebit.nz.

NOTICE: As hard to believe, there was a time when Yahoo almost saved the world. Not with useful search results, you understand, but by buying – and possibly ruining – Facebook before it becomes the unstoppable echo chamber of fake news and data leakage that we all know and love today. .

I was reminded of this week, as it appeared in a new book published this week: An Ugly Truth: In the Battle for Facebook Dominance, through New York Times journalists Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang.

Business intern describes the key section. In 2006, Yahoo, anxious to follow Google which had just bought YouTube, made an offer of $ 1 billion to buy Facebook. Zuckerberg, according to the book, wasn’t sure what he would do with the $ 500 million he would pocket as a result, thinking he would likely build another Facebook.

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The offer was therefore refused and its entire management team is said to have left in protest. “The part that was painful wasn’t turning down the offer,” Zuckerberg said in the book. “It’s the fact that after that a lot of the company quit because they didn’t believe in what we were doing.”

Facebook would push back the interest of a real who’s who of companies between 2004 and 2007, and to put it diplomatically, not all are flourishing in 2021. Google and News Corp are still very much alive, but MySpace and Friendster… less then.

But imagine if you were offered a time machine today, and instead of taking the ever popular Hitler assassination mission, you set the dial to 2006. Either persuade Zuckerberg to accept Yahoo’s offer or kidnap him and make a good enough impression to close the deal (it’s probably worth copying Jesse Eisenberg’s impression. of Social network should it come to this).

Jesse Eisenberg on 'The Social Network' would be a good place to start refining your impression of Mark Zuckerberg.

Merrick Morton / Stuff

Jesse Eisenberg on ‘The Social Network’ would be a good place to start to refine your impression of Mark Zuckerberg.

Congratulations: you saved the world from Facebook’s worst excesses.

Not because Yahoo would be a more ethical gatekeeper of social media, you understand, but because if there’s one thing Yahoo is good at (and, in fact, it can only being something he’s good at), it’s about taking promising websites and leveraging them.

Just ask Delicious, the site that came up with the markup. Purchased between 15 and 30 million US dollars in 2005, in 2010, it was again on sale, and no less than five different owners attempted to repair the damage over the next decade.

You couldn’t ask Geocities because it no longer exists. But all you really need to know is that when Yahoo bought it back in 1999 for $ 3.56 billion in shares., it was the third largest site on the Internet. When that closed a decade later, It was not.

The real Mark Zuckerberg testifies to the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election.

Andrew Harnik / AP

The real Mark Zuckerberg testifies to the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election.

Tumblr might also have something to say. By the time Yahoo went to buy it in 2013 for $ 1.1 billion, the company’s reputation was such that a petition against the acquisition attracted more than 170,000 signatures. However, that was not enough to stop the case; Tumblr duly lost more than 30 percent of its traffic when a pornography ban has come into effect and the site has been sold to WordPress makers for less than US $ 3 million.

I could include Flickr in this list as well, but others have captured the bad times in much more detail than I have. here. All you really need to know is that it was bought by Yahoo for $ 25 million in 2005, and sold in 2017 for an undisclosed amount.

There’s no social network in this mix, so if you were feeling generous you could argue that Facebook would have been the exception. Well, maybe, but it’s doubtful that things ended happier than when AOL bought Bebo for $ 850 million in 2008. It was sold to Criterion Capital two years later for approximately US $ 10 million.

So I think it’s probably safe to assume that a Facebook owned by Yahoo would follow a similar trajectory, especially since the company actually only made a profit in 2009.

Imagine the heartache from which we would have been saved! No nightmare ad targeting! WhatsApp and Instagram are reportedly still owned by companies that believe in privacy! No moderators subjected to the worst content in the world! No suicides live! No Cambridge Analytica And without other algorithmic promotion, maybe a defeat for Donald Trump in 2016 or before!

That’s, of course, assuming Zuckerberg didn’t take the $ 500 million from the sale and do something even more damaging. There’s always a worse timeline, so maybe don’t go messing around with the time machines after all.


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