Yesterday the techworld went crazy with the news about Yahoo shutting down the popular bookmarking service Delicious. There were calls for keeping the service alive and, as it happened in the case of XMarks, many even offered to pay for the service. The agony didn’t last long as Yahoo’s PR realized the blunder and Chris Yeh from Delicious team wrote a blog post explaining what is in store for Delicious users. In short, he said that they are not shutting down the service but are planning to offload it to someone else.
No, we are not shutting down Delicious. While we have determined that there is not a strategic fit at Yahoo!, we believe there is a ideal home for Delicious outside of the company where it can be resourced to the level where it can be competitive.
So, for now the service is going to stay and, with a good buyer, it may be alive for a long time. But this drama allowed users to learn a few lessons about not just consumer web services like delicious but also about SaaS applications used by businesses. I thought I will do a brief post pointing to some of the lessons.
Lesson 1: Be careful before trusting your business on free apps. I know many small businesses and individual professionals put their crucial data on free services. Even I do the same when it comes to Email and Office productivity applications. The real lesson here is to be extremely careful before trusting free services, especially if it is coming from some unknown startups. If a company as large as Yahoo cannot sustain a popular free service, tiny startups can’t. I am not saying one should not trust free services but, rather, one should be careful and do due diligence before putting your crucial data inside these services.
Lesson 2: Have a multi-tiered backup plan. Even though I was upset about Delicious going down, it was not my main bookmarking app. I use Diigo (a great service if you are a knowledge worker) for bookmarking but I have set it up to automatically backup to Delicious. All my bookmarks in Diigo are backed up automatically in Delicious. Earlier I used to do the auto-backup on both Delicious and Magnolia but after the Magnolia debacle, I export my bookmarks to my local disk and sync it to cloud. Well, this is an example of just one service but I do have multiple backup and DR plans worked out for all my data including personal files like music, videos, etc.. There is nothing wrong in trusting SaaS services with your data but plan for eventualities and have a backup plan.
Lesson 3: Even though this is not a lesson for users, this is something that struck me as an opportunity. In fact, it is nothing new. Matt Asay has written about it many times and I have highlighted this opportunity in my posts few times in the past. When I heard about the possibility of Yahoo shutting down Delicious, I wanted to do a simple experiment on twitter and see the effect. Keep in mind that I am not someone who is famous to gain thousands of followers or use a third party service to gain followers. I have a small following and I follow back those people who match my interests. I made a tweet that had the following content:
Dear Yahoo. Please Open Source Delicious. PRT if you agree with this request.
Within few hours, there were several hundred retweets and it didn’t stop until Yahoo made the clarification few hours back. Someone in Twitterverse started an online petition on the same topic and hundreds and hundreds of Twitter users had “signed” the petition. This clearly shows two things:
- Open Source helps people trust SaaS providers
- A new business model (opportunity for monetization) has opened up for Open Source vendors
Well, many Open Source vendors have already taken the plunge and offer their solutions as both multi-tenant SaaS and single tenant cloud hosted applications. This Delicious debacle clearly shows that it is a good route for Open Source vendors to take. In fact, this debacle also highlights the importance of Open Source as a SaaS Endgame thesis I have been pushing for some time now. More importantly, it offers another example to blunt the argument put forward by some pundits that Open Source is irrelevant in the cloud based world.
These are not the only lessons we can learn from such debacles and I can go on to write an entire report on the topic. These are the ones that popped up in my mind as I was engaged in discussions with few colleagues on the topic and thought I will post them here. I would love to hear your thoughts on not just the Delicious debacle but also about the lessons we can learn from this debacle as we move into a more SaaS based future.
- Yahoo! “Sunsets” Delicious, But It Won’t Shut Down. Will You Move Your Bookmarks? (blogher.com)
- 5 Alternatives for Social Bookmarking To Prepare for Delicious’ Passing (socialtimes.com)
- Delicious Being Sold, Not Shut Down [Delicious] (gizmodo.com)
- Let Delicious live in open source land! (infoworld.com)
- Delicious will be shut down. What to do and 6 major alternatives for social bookmarking. (rossdawsonblog.com)