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Will Disney or Apple Buy Yahoo Before Microsoft Does?

Will Disney or Apple Buy Yahoo Before Microsoft Does?

Well, I started a little speculation this morning that Apple might be buying Yahoo, which was piggybacked off of TechCrunch’s rumor that Apple may develop its own search engine. Now the Motley Fool is sticking their fingers in the Yahoo pie, especially since Yahoo Stock has dipped below $10, saying that despite some analyst predictions, Disney will not buy Yahoo.

OK, let me start of by saying this, Disney buying Yahoo is much more hairbrained of an idea than Apple buying Yahoo. I mean, I already named reasons why Yahoo would be a good acquisition target for Apple, but for those of you who missed my post, I’ll restate them here :

  • Yahoo Local is a Perfect Fit for the Local Search functionality of the iPhone
  • Yahoo OneSearch already uses some nice cutting edge features for mobile search
  • Yahoo SearchMonkey Apps are cutting edge and would work well in the iPhone App Store
  • Flickr meet iPhone, iPhone meet Flickr
  • Yahoo Music and Music Shortcuts would be a perfect match for iTunes
  • Apple would have its own proprietary search engine for Safari and iPhone browsers (that doesn’t suck too bad)

Those are all reasons Yahoo may work for Apple. Plus, Apple would probably be able to turn Yahoo around into what it once was, or what it should be, and save share holders who have been hurt by recent Jerry Yang decisions. Hell, Yang could walk away a hero if Jobs & Co. could resurrect Yahoo!

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Now, on to this Disney stuff. Some Venture Capitalist named Matt McIlwain has predicted that Disney will buy Yahoo. Why?

“The rationale is that Yahoo! for the last six to eight years has focused hard on being a content company and a manager and leverager of content assets.”

The Motley Fool lists about 4 reasons why this is hogwash but I have one more for you … Go.com

Does anyone remember Go.com ?

Back in the day, before Google got big and ruled everything, Disney launched Go.com as a human powered search engine driven by a social community of volunteer Go Guides (the system used now by GoGuides.org, except for it was free back then) who scoured the web, submitted sites to Go.com, and rated sites based on various factors. The user ratings, along with title tag and site content relevancy powered by InfoSeek helped to rank the results in Go.com searches, so ideally, the results were more human friendly and less spammy than the algorithmic search engines of the time, such as AltaVista and NorthernLight.

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Sound familiar? Well the mix of search and social user ratings was well ahead of its time (look what Yahoo and Google are trying to do now with user ratings powered by Delicious, bookmarks and other third party meta data) and Go.com was a Godsend for SEO’s who wanted to get their client sites ranked well, if the client sites were relevant and valuable. Plus, Disney pushed Go.com HARD on ESPN, ABC and other Disney entertainment outlets which gave the site lots of traffic.

What happened to Go.com? This WAY before its time project was brought to a halt in 2001 when Disney decided to close the doors on the Go.com search project and replace its search results with Goto.com results (which later became Overture, then Yahoo Search Marketing).

From CNet’s 2001 Archives :

Disney said Monday that it will discontinue operations of its troubled Go.com Web portal, becoming the latest big media company to fold its Internet efforts back into core TV businesses.

Go.com’s entire work force, about 400 employees, has been laid off with the closure, said Disney spokeswoman Susan Murdy. The layoffs will shut down the portal’s Sunnyvale, Calif., office, where the majority of its employees were based. The laid-off employees were given severance packages that included 60 calendar days of pay and benefits, according to one source.

In addition, Infoseek, a search engine in which Disney acquired a controlling interest in 1998, will likely disappear if the company can sell its technology to a third party, Murdy said. The company may also sell the site’s traffic, giving the rights to redirect people who visit Infoseek to another Web site, she added.

Lesson : Disney had a chance and they failed. They failed with Go.com and they would fail again with Yahoo. Go.com and Infoseek, if they were run right could have been the Google or Yahoo of today, but instead of downsizing or trying to run Go.com’s search on a tighter budget, they quit.

Maybe things are different now, maybe Disney understands the Internet after nearly 10 years after launching the original Go.com, but Miley Cyrus and Jonas Brother fans are not going to save Yahoo. If anyone is, it will be either Microsoft or Apple or another company which can turn things around.

Why won’t Disney buy Yahoo? Go.com, that’s why.


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Loren Baker

Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing ... [Read full bio]

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