Big news in the Internet this week, as Yahoo!, one of the founding fathers of search, told the world that it was considering selling off its online business. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Isn’t that ALL of their business?” The answer would be no. Yahoo! actually makes more money off its investments (its shares of massive Chinese Amazon-wannabee, Alibaba, are worth more than $30 billion alone!) than it does its advertising. 

first1It’s a story we’ve seen before, really. It’s not who invents something, it’s who re-invents it. Yahoo! joins old fogeys like Hotbot, Excite, AltaVista and Ask Jeeves on the Internet’s porch, shaking their fists and yelling at traffic on the information superhighway to “slow down before somebody gets hurt!” Facebook replaced MySpace (insert Justin Timberlake joke here) because Mark Zuckerberg has had the guts to reinvent social media again and again. Want proof? Try to keep up with the “privacy settings” on your Facebook account. It’s like somebody is trying to play a joke on you: “Please change your settings . . . oops! Please change them again. Ha! Now change them back, or we’ll show those photos from your vacation in St. Bart’s to everybody in the world!”

There’s a lesson in here for the rest of us. When you build your next online project, work with somebody like {code} Roadies to identify the very edge of the web, then find the courage to build as close to it as you can. Not only will you make an impression on users, you’ll save money because your site will last just a little longer than if you played it safe.

The next time you’re waiting for your Google search results, observe a moment of silence for Yahoo! and its old-school brethren who found their niches but never left them. Then move forward, both in your search and in your business online.