CIO Symmetry

Nov 17 2011   10:12PM GMT

Can the future of Yahoo withstand the dot-com bubble 2.0?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

San Francisco’s Yahoo billboard has been a landmark in the city for over a decade. I always get a little thrill when I zoom over the 101 and spot its cheeky little sayings and delightful midcentury stylistic design. Sadly, the Yahoo billboard is coming down this month.

Is the future of Yahoo in jeopardy? Yahoo is one of the last remaining standouts from the dot-com era. The billboard went up during the days when the Nasdaq was ripe with tech stocks, and it has witnessed its fellow tech billboards fall by the wayside along with the companies they represented. Remember using AltaVista? Encarta? How about Go.com? Remember when Apple was just a boutique brand favored mostly by artists and the truly eclectic? Remember when social media was little more than logging onto a special interest forum and then the truly pointless SixDegrees?

We often speak about the end of the dot-com era while ignoring the fact that we’re smack in the middle of another one. Some pundits are labeling it bubble 2.0. I’m not sure they’re entirely wrong. Startups are climbing, and cloud computing makes for fast and easy tech in just about everyone’s hands. Facebook is worth an astronomical amount. Groupon’s IPO earlier this month was the biggest in the U.S. since Google’s, which is pulling in respectable amounts of cash, thanks to its constant innovation and reinvention (case in point, Google’s digital music store opened this Thursday). Despite a few financial pundits who are shaking their heads at Groupon’s future growth potential, it’s plain that there’s still an appetite for dot-com commerce.

But what does this mean for the future of Yahoo in the Internet landscape? With other tech giants making huge inroads into the cultural lexicon, Yahoo seems to be floundering. It fired Carol A. Bartz two months ago in a messy PR nightmare, advertisers don’t seem to be biting, and the company’s attempts at engaging Web 2.0 dynamics are turning up with a Fail Whale.

What do you think? Is the future of Yahoo at risk? Is the Yahoo billboard’s demise a sign of tough times to come for the Internet giant? The comments are hanging on your every word.

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