For those old enough to remember the advent of the World Wide Web and its awkward infancy, Yahoo Inc. has a certain nostalgia value. It’s a callback to the days when web portals dominated the online landscape and search engines were far from the sleek, polished tools they are now. With US telecom company Verizon Communications Inc. signing off on a deal to buy Yahoo’s core online assets for $4.83 billion—and with it, the end of Yahoo as an independent company—it’s the end of an era.
Yahoo had evolved over the past two decades, of course. As of last year, it was still the fourth most visited website globally. But neither that nor Marissa Mayer’s high-profile takeover as president in 2012 was able to boost its profitability in the long run in a cut-throat environment—one where Google and Facebook suck all the air out of the room. There’s a lesson to be learnt in the once-giant’s decline: in the digital economy, there are no certainties; not even for today’s giants like Google.