Earlier this week, it became official, Yahoo is to sell its core Web assets to Verizon Wireless for $4.8 Billion. This follows on from the network’s purchase of AOL for $4.4 Billion last year, but things could have been very, very different for Yahoo and indeed, Google. The early days of the Internet as we know it were interesting times, and while the main aims for anyone looking to make money were to make it easier for people to find something online and sell ads, Google wasn’t always the top dog. Many of you will remember names like AltaVista, Netscape, Ask Jeeves, Excite and of course, Yahoo and Google. These two names have been thought of in same sentences for decades, and there was once a situation where Yahoo could have owned Google, selling for just $1 Million at the time.
Those keen on their online history will no doubt know the story of Google, but the two founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, were still students at Stanford University. The two of them had developed the innovative PageRank software, which formed the basis of the Google that we know and love today, and it’s this technology and the rest of Google that the two were keen to sell to AltaVista for just $1 Million, so that they could continue their education at Stanford. Yahoo ended up acquiring AltaVista for themselves in 2003, and if the deal between AltaVista and Google did go through, they would have inherited Google. Yahoo did get their chance around the same sort of time in 2002, where the firm offered Google $3 Billion, the Mountain View firm countered with $5 Billion, but Yahoo wasn’t interested.
The history of Yahoo, if boiled down to possible buyers and acquisitions is pretty poignant given the recent announcement of the Verizon deal. After all, this is a firm that not only had a chance to purchase Google, but was also offered $40 Billion back in 2008 to become a part of Microsoft. They again refused, and have sold for just over a tenth of this figure to Verizon Wireless. While there are other parts of Yahoo that will live on, such as Yahoo Japan and their stake in Alibaba, worth roughly $35 Billion or so, it will be sad to see Yahoo go the way of AOL, especially as these firms helped make the Internet what it is today.