Posted by: coolerbecky | July 12, 2009

Geocities Shuts Down

Yesterday, Yahoo announced that their affiliate Geocities, one of the Internet’s longest running free web-hosting areas and a definite relic of the internet, is shutting down on 26 October 2009. This shut down spells a definite change to the “landscape” of the Internet, sort of like when a city council orders the destruction of a large and historic slum with people still living in it.

Geocities began in 1995 when a small web hosting and development company in Southern California created its own Web directory of 6 virtual “neighbourhoods” complete with community elements such as chats and offered users the ability to develop free home pages on them. The offering proved so popular that by the end of the year, the company had expanded greatly, getting over six million monthly page views and thousands of new accounts daily. By December 1996, Beverly Hills Internet, now renamed Geocities, made the move from Beverly Hills to Santa Monica, with extra office space in New York City. With the introduction of paid premium services and advertisements in 1997, Geocities continued its rapid expansion, despite negative reactions from users. By the time the company went public in August 1998, its initial share price was a whopping $17 and even rose to a peak of over $100.

In January 1999, Geocities was purchased by Yahoo! for $3.57 billion in stock. Unfortunately, many of the decisions made by Yahoo!, including the removal of the neighbourhoods and a change in terms and conditions, proved very unpopular with users, leading to a mass exodus. The increasing costs of upkeep for the abandoned pages led to a reported $8 million loss in final quarter of 1998.

Yahoo! is encouraging current GeoCities users to transfer their sites to their fee-based branded web hosting services.

As I currently own a small piece of Internet slum real-estate on Geocities in the form of an obsolete, abandoned blog, I will be moving the contents of said blog from there to here over the next few weeks.

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