This was the first time I had ever heard about del.icio.us (I still like to use the old naming convention)… note the date.
This was about three months before Union Square Ventures closed an investment in the company—and a month before I actually joined them fulltime. As I look at my e-mail archive, I had already started to do some project work before my start date, looking into companies, doing some competitive analysis. The first meeting I ever took with an entrepreneur was with when Fred asked me to come meet Joshua Schachter. Josh was geeky and nervous—sweating through his shirt after running up to the USV office after work.
Admittedly, Brad and Fred saw something in del.icio.us that I didn’t get right away. I had enough trouble trying to figure it out. Once I did start using it, I got hooked. USV funded the company and for nine months, Josh and his team worked just three floors down from us. We’d see them all the time and get to be feature testers and product guinea pigs. It was great to watch it grow and develop.
To this day, my most viewed Flickr photo is a picture of Josh and Peter in down in their office in the first week. The caption: “This is del.icio.us. That's it. Two guys in t-shirts on patio chairs. Who doesn't love a startup?”
And now, the news today is that Yahoo! is going to shut it down. This is an awful outcome for a number of reasons. Not only does del.icio.us represent a whole lot of missed potential—especially as we see the device-shifting “Read it later” world of Instapaper, Readitlater, Flipboard, etc emerging. What really sucks is that Yahoo! (unlike eBay with Skype and StumbleUpon) is making no attempt at passing the service off to someone who could take better care of it. Is there really no entrepreneur who could take the service and make something out of it? If someone at Yahoo! wants to talk to me about it, I’d at least entertain the conversation around getting an entrepreneur in there to start with their userbase and a running product start—or combine it with some similar opportunities we’re seeing in the space. I think it’s a fundable opportunity just as much today as it was nearly 6 years ago. At least open source it and let the community run it!
It’s also unfortunate because it really hurts Yahoo!’s ability to make purchases in the future. To shut off such an important asset in the history of Web 2.0 really means they’ll pull the plug on anything. I certainly wouldn’t want anything I built winding up there (unless they were the only bidder on the face of the earth), given how well they’ve proven to be able to take care of things. And they wonder why they couldn’t get deals done for Facebook, Groupon or Foursquare.
Oh well… so long del.icio.us. It was a fun ride while it lasted.