Let’s have a two-minute silence: GeoCities is dead and has been finally laid to rest by its owner, Yahoo.
GeoCities was almost 15 years old. In Internet terms, it was born shortly after the big bang in the latter half of 1995. Its creators, David Bohnett and John Rezner, envisaged a virtual community with web pages hosted in cyber cities and neighborhoods. The system was a massive success and quickly attracted a huge following. At its peak, millions of pages were created and, in the early days of the web, every other site appeared to be hosted on GeoCities.
That is not to say GeoCities sites were good. Most were shockingly awful and the enforced backgrounds and advertising did not help. Despite this, popularity continued to grow and, during the height of the dotcom boom in 1999, Yahoo bought the company for $3.6 billion. That’s right: $3,600,000,000. At the time, GeoCities was hosting 3.5 million sites which made each one of them worth over $1,000! (We may laugh now, but do not forget the ludicrous valuations for Facebook and Twitter…)
GeoCities began showing signs of fatigue shortly afterwards. Intrusive advertising, poor development tools, and the introduction of inexpensive hosting plans made GeoCities a less attractive option. The rise of blogging platforms and social networks such as MySpace made it easier to create a web presence and receive user-generated content.
Even before GeoCities fell out of fashion, the company had never made a profit and Yahoo pulled the plug without making any attempt to sell the system. New account sign-ups have been stopped and the old sites will disappear by the end of the year. There are only a few months left to revel at some of the worst sites on the net.
Will you shed a tear for GeoCities? Is this the end of an internet era? Or should it have been killed off years ago?
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.