Posted December 17, 2010 7:26 am by with 5 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

It appears as if one of the most popular social bookmarking sites (and pretty strong brand name amongst certain circles) has been marked for what Yahoo calls being ‘sunset’. In other words, it will be riding off into the sunset and sent to the glue factory. Never heard that one? OK, I’ll say it in simpler terms. It’s being shut down.

The slide below was displayed over at TechCrunch and shows other Yahoo properties targeted for sunset-land including Yahoo Bookmarks, Yahoo Buzz, AltaVista, MyBlogLog and a few more..

An update to the TC post pretty much put the final nail in the rumor and turned it into ‘fact’.

AllThingsD’s Liz Gannes is reporting that the products will be in fact shut down and that the slide does in fact originate from an all hands meeting at Yahoo, following yesterday’s layoffs. As if we needed more proof, Yahoo Product Manager Blake Irving has threatened to fire whomever leaked the slide.

The official response from Yahoo:

“Part of our organizational streamlining involves cutting our investment in underperforming or off-strategy products to put better focus on our core strengths and fund new innovation in the next year and beyond.

We continuously evaluate and prioritize our portfolio of products and services, and do plan to shut down some products in the coming months such as Yahoo! Buzz, our Traffic APIs, and others. We will communicate specific plans when appropriate.”

For the few of you unaware this is PR speak for, “We confirm.”

What I find most fascinating about this entire thing has little to do with what is or is not being closed down. Rather it’s this Wikileaks like culture that exists in the Internet / tech industry. Things that are obviously intended for internal use to convey information to people who are on a ‘need to know’ basis are just as likely to end up on TechCrunch as they are in a VP’s office at the company.

Yahoo is a publically traded company that has investors who could lose a lot of money if any of these leaks lead to further activity that negatively impacts the shareholder value. There are any number of consequences that could result from this kind of internal planning being made public but people don’t seem to care.

I have read others who have broached this subject and they talk about honor, class and integrity. It appears as if these qualities are in shorter supply than ever at companies these days. We are not talking about government secrets that get everyone in a tizzy about what was or wasn’t shared, what should or shouldn’t be shared and if there are lives in the balance. On some level, those actions can be justified to some degree (Note: I am not the least bit interested in debating the whole Wikileaks thing. It’s not anything that needs to be done in this forum. I’m just citing the example.)

As for employees (who are paid by a company for their services, which are to help the company grow regardless of whether it can really be done or not), letting these sensitive ‘documents’ out into the wild? I think it shows an extremely low level of class and a complete lack of integrity.

I mean honestly, other than to hurt the company and endear yourself to the tech media, what is the purpose of giving this information to outsiders? It’s all for personal gain and it does nothing but create the potential for greater harm to those who are actually trying to work to help the company succeed (even if those efforts appear to be very misguided). I think it’s pretty pathetic.

Look, I am not perfect. When I worked at bigger companies I could be found engaging in water cooler talk that was questioning or wondering what in the world was going on. I am not claiming piety here. But one thing I would have never considered was giving company data to outsiders. That’s just short-sighted, ignorant and mean-spirited, in my opinion.

But anyway, for today I am part of the machine that uses the information that has been passed along. Maybe I am just as guilty as the next guy on this one by sharing it further. That’s one I’ll have to work on myself now, isn’t it?

  • Frank, I personally agree with you – I don’t see myself ever leaking company information for any reason – but I can’t blame Yahoo’s employees for being disgruntled enough to do so – it seems like the company has been horribly mismanaged over the last few years and morale is sub-basement. Revenge is short-sighted, I agree, but when 6% of the workforce got laid off in the holiday season, that’s Yahoo’s management being fairly short-sighted as well.

  • Cynthia

    I was just reading an article in the LA Times (I think) about the recent government take over of a number of music blogs. They claim the blogs were breaking copyright laws by offering bits of unreleased CDs but the blog owners say these things were “Leaked” to them on purpose. I work in entertainment and this happens a lot. It’s much better publicity to say “here’s a secret no one is supposed to have” than to say, “here’s a track the PR people want you to have.”

    Not saying that’s the case with Yahoo, but in this biz, it’s true that you can’t believe everything you read.

    • @Cynthia – Good point. I hate to think that everything on this planet is so contrived but that makes sense.

      I think I was supposed to live in the horse and buggy era. Too much crap these days to keep track of.

  • Your point about leaks is well noted. I have a bigger question – at what point do these ‘leaks’ represent a breach of privacy? The Internet is rife with claims of breaches of privacy when it comes to Facebook and other social sites. Journalists have long preached ‘public interest’, but as you point out, it share holders suddenly lose out, is this type of publication in the ‘public’s interest’?

    We hear plenty about Wikileaks and whether or not they have breached any laws – but surely, privacy has a role to play here?

    Just a thought
    Les Scammell

  • I’ve been reading a fair bit about this lately and I’m not sure what’s exactly happening now.

    Could it have been a publicity stunt to try and raise a buzz about a website that has been slowly sinking to the back of people’s minds of late?

    I have been hearing two different stories. One that it is closing down and the other that it may not be?

    Any clarification on this?