Why is del.icio.us trapped in amber?

I’ve had an account on del.icio.us for several years, but I only started using it heavily perhaps a year ago. While it’s a wonderful site in many respects, I’ve been surprised and disappointed by what’s happened since Yahoo acquired the company: nothing at all.

Clearly, Yahoo has had no idea what to do with their acquisition: almost its first reaction to the grafted del.icio.us antibodies was to roll out a homegrown NIH tagging site, the name of which nobody now remembers. Since then, Yahoo hasn’t even bothered to switch users over to its unified login system as it did with Flickr. Whether you liked that move or not, it was a clear sign that Yahoo had some interest in Flickr.

Prior to the acquisition, I figure that del.icio.us had fulfilled perhaps 5% of its initial promise. In order to grow its user base beyond hardcore power users, the site clearly needed a less hostile user interface; nothing has happened. They could have increased existing user loyalty and retention by making it easier for people to find others with similar interests; nothing has happened. They could have made the site more useful to individuals by helping people understand the evolution of their own interests. Nothing has happened.

It’s a shame to see that potential go unfulfilled. Even from a business perspective, if Yahoo could quite reasonably not figure out how to squeeze some money out of its acquisition, it could at very little cost to itself be improving its image among the nerdiest of the nerdy by investing in del.icio.us and blowing its geek cred trumpet. Instead, I have a notion that Josh Schachter is languishing in some dungeon in Santa Clara, watching the grains of sand fall through his stock option hourglass, and waiting to make good his escape. What a waste.

I suspect that the same thing is also happening with Flickr, though not to quite the same extent. Take a look at the numbers of pre- and post-acquisition changes to the site and you’ll see what I mean. Sure, geotagging is cute, but it’s almost the only significant change in over two years. This sclerosis of small acquisitions doesn’t make me sanguine for Yahoo’s future.

Posted in web
5 comments on “Why is del.icio.us trapped in amber?
  1. Joshua Ball says:

    Have you tried Simpy? http://www.simpy.com/about

    It’s ugly (imho), but it has all of the features of del.icio.us, and more (full text search, social features, private bookmarks, broken link detection). I switched a year ago, the del.icio.us import was painless.

  2. Nick Mudge says:

    del.icio.us has improved since its acquisition. For instance, before the acquisition del.icio.us was a lot slower and sometimes almost too slow. It now enables you to see who has added you to their network. It added graphics next to the stories on the front pages: http://del.icio.us/

    Once or twice I’ve seen ads on del.icio.us.

    As del.icio.us has been very successful, I don’t think it makes sense to change the way del.icio.us works, or change the interface unless it is little things that helps the user do what he/she already does.

    It makes sense to add more peripheral functionality, which is something del.icio.us has worked on, for instance the embedded firefox interface for del.icio.us.

  3. Well, I guess you’re happy to see that there’s a brand spanking new delicious just on the horizon. If you haven’t already seen what it looks like, there are screenshots up on techcrunch.

  4. Neil K says:

    Hi there. I work at Yahoo, on Upcoming.org. Day job is PHP, but I’m a Haskell wannabe.

    I’ve worked at two of the giant startup-hoovering Silicon Valley companies so far, and this seems to be a rule. Whenever something gets acquired, there’s at least a year of infrastructure upgrades and revisions. Delicious 2.0 will be a massive upgrade, from the point of view of reliability and scalability.

    Getting acquired by a big, stable, cash-rich company buys the startup time in order to make these changes. Often, that was the whole point of being acquired.

    Also, you’re not correct about Yahoo “not knowing what they want to do” with Delicious. They are a big part of Yahoo’s search strategy. I know those guys and they have big plans for the future.

  5. Azat says:

    Dear Mr. Frame,I had the pleasure of meneitg you several years ago while I was a student at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA. Your work has been a constant source of inspiration for me; the Enigma Variations’ catalog is always close at hand. The Tale of the Crippled Boy is an amazing project, but what has moved me most was watching the Vimeo clip of your artist talk and listening to you discuss the block you had prior to the project’s inception. Manifest in each of your characters is the honesty with which you approach the creative process. For what it’s worth, thank you for all of the magic you’ve created over the years.Best,Bedel

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  1. […] be resolved or del.icio.us has no chance of emerging as a search engine player. Rather than keep on doing nothing with del.icio.us, Yahoo needs to give del.icio.us a makeover and present it in a much different […]

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