By: Hutch Carpenter | December 17, 2010
So the news is out. Yahoo plans to shutter Delicious, the largest social bookmarking site. Which is shocking, particularly among the tech savvy and socially oriented. Delicious is iconic for its application of social sharing and collective intelligence. Hard to believe Yahoo wants to shut it down.
But wait…this doesn’t have to be the end. Why not seek alternatives to shutting down the service? Might there be a logical company to take on Delicious, and all the value it holds? Why yes, one company comes to mind.
Hmmm…what is it Google wants to do? What defines their corporate philosophy? Ah yes, here’s Google’s mission:
“Organize the world’s information.” Now, doesn’t that sound like the kind of thing that applies to Delicious? Millions of people organizing the world’s information, according to their own tags. Which makes it easier to find for others. Crowdsourced curation.
For that reason alone, Google would be wise to take on Delicious.
Google’s pagerank is amazing. It’s incredibly good at finding nuggets. But it’s not perfect, as anyone who regularly use it knows. The use of links is powerful, but is a limited basis for identifying valuable web pages.
What people elect to bookmark is a different sort of valuation. Which is important, because not everyone blogs, or creates web pages with links to their favorite sites. But there is a distributed effort of indicating value via bookmarking.
This activity would be a valuable addition to Google’s search results. Take a look at this thread on Hacker News (a bunch of tech savvy types) about Delicious:
I added that highlighting. And here’s what Michael Arrington said when Yahoo experimented with adding Delicious bookmarks to its search results:
I have previously written that Delicious search is one of the best ways of searching for things when a standard search doesn’t pull up what you are looking for. After Google, it is my favorite “search engine.” Adding this information into Yahoo search is a great idea.
Google could leverage the activity of Delicious users to improve its search results, or at least give users an additional place to find content. Mine the tags to provide more context and connections among pages.
Note that Google, and Bing, are exploring different ways to apply social signals from Twitter and Facebook. Inclusion of Delicious in the search process would be consistent with that.
And Google would still benefit from its Adwords program here. Which would be a monetization strategy for Delicious, which has no ads.
Google finds itself in a fight with Facebook for employees. Google is public, Facebook is pre-IPO. Social is hot, and Facebook is dominant in that. Google isn’t.
But as Allen Stern notes, Google does have a special appeal to the tech crowd for its developer-friendly moves. Stepping in and taking over a legendary Web 2.0 site like Delicious would be a good fit with that reputation. Enhance the usage of the data and make it easy for developers to access.
More importantly, Delicious holds a special appeal among the geekier set. Many of us are still active bookmarkers, and use the service. Google is known for being a geek-centric paradise, with a bunch of high-GPA, advanced degree types on its campuses.
What do you think it costs to run Delicious “as is”? I’d hazard a guess that it’s not too much. And Google is throwing off some serious cash ($10 billion in last 12 months):
So they do have some capacity, but obviously need to invest it wisely.
For a relatively low cost, they gain a treasure trove of data on relevance and value, and a solid boost to their PR. Seems like a big win to me. How about it Google? Why not step in and take over Delicious?