A Delicious Lesson In Owning Digital Products

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Really long-term readers of this blog might remember Delicious (or, as I still instinctively type it, del.icio.us – surely one of the best domain names ever), the social bookmarking site. It was, in essence, a semi-public web-based version of the browser bookmarking that you probably don’t use.

Delicious was one of the big Web 2.0 sites that was bought by Yahoo — and slowly ruined. It was sold to competitor Pinboard for $35,000, rather less than the $15m to $30m Yahoo paid for it…

There’s an interesting insight from an interview with Pinboard’s creator:

In 2011, after Delicious’ value had plummeted, Yahoo sold the site to YouTube property AVOS, which redesigned it again, rendering it unusable for one of its largest established user bases — fan-fic writers. Slash fic, or fan fiction about romantic relationships between popular characters, is traditionally denoted with the / mark it takes its name from. E.g. Steve Rogers / Bucky Barnes, or Hermione Granger / Harry Potter. The AVOS redesign made it impossible to tag or search for anything with a / in it. A single symbol turned into a huge opportunity for Delicious’ growing rival, Pinboard.

Amazing how easy it is to destroy something – if you don’t understand what you have in the first place.

As an aside – he makes a side-swipe at Pocket, which is what I’ve largly replaced Delicious with, and it’s worrisome:

I feel like I won the war so thoroughly that I don’t really know what to do next. I would love to take down Pocket and I would love to take down Diigo. Pocket is losing a lot of money, and Diigo is kind of a strange, weird longterm competitor.

Pocket was acquired by Mozilla – lets hope they can keep it up.

deliciouspinboardPocketweb 2.0

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.