Chart: The Rise and Fall of Yahoo
The 20 year roller coaster for Yahoo finally ends
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
The saga surrounding one of the world’s most recognizable internet stocks has come to a close.
Yahoo has finally sold its operating business to the highest bidder. The winner was Verizon – and the price was $4.8 billion.
That’s worth less than 1% of the company it had multiple opportunities to buy: Google (now Alphabet).
Technology changes fast, and successful companies must leverage smart acquisitions in building for the future. Facebook bought Oculus Rift and Instagram, and Google bought companies like Youtube, DoubleClick, Boston Dynamics, and DeepMind to help flush out its strategy.
The executives running Yahoo have a rough track record in reading industry tea leaves. It’s not just about the deals they made, but it’s also the deals they failed to make.
In the end, a lack of execution with acquisitions proved to be the company’s Achilles’ Heel.
In 1998, Yahoo was approached by two young Stanford Ph.D. students to buy their search engine algorithm. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had created PageRank – a quick way to find the most relevant website for a given search query. Yahoo skipped out on buying it for $1 million, rationalizing that it would take people off of Yahoo’s website, while decreasing traffic and ad revenues.
Even later on when Google’s search business was well-established, Yahoo CEO Terry Semel balked at Larry and Sergey’s $1 billion asking price. He would eventually agree to it, but by then it was too late. The Google guys had already decided to up their price to a heftier $3 billion.
Around that same time, Yahoo was turned down by a 22-year-old Mark Zuckerberg. Yahoo offered to buy Facebook for $1 billion, but Zuckerberg declined. This was a moment that billionaire Facebook investor Peter Thiel lauds as the major turning point for the company that allowed it to become the behemoth it is today. Some sources even say that if the offer was increased to $1.1 billion, that Facebook’s board would have forced Zuckerberg to take it.
But it’s not just the offers made that were missed opportunities. Yahoo also turned down a hostile takeover from Microsoft in 2008 for $44.6 billion that valued the company for far more than it is worth today.
Deals that Bombed
Finally, the deals that did close were unable to add any value to the company.
Yahoo famously made two acquisitions in 1999 that are now ranked by Forbes as some of the worst internet acquisitions of all-time.
The first was a $4.58 billion deal for Geocities, a site that enabled users to build their own personal websites. While Geocities was a pioneer in this regard, it eventually was shuttered in 2009 after failing to deliver any value to Yahoo shareholders.
The second was the famous $5.7 billion deal for Broadcast.com, an online television site that was founded by Mark Cuban. Perhaps way ahead of its time, internet connections were too slow in 1999 to run this type of video content off the web.
Yahoo also bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion in 2013. While it is not ranked as one of the worst acquisitions of all time, it is not doing particularly well either.
Yahoo’s Saving Grace
There was one M&A decision that wasn’t a whiff. In 2005, the company bought a 40% stake in emerging online retail company Alibaba. The remainder of those holdings, now worth $30 billion, make up the majority of Yahoo’s market capitalization today.
In the context of the recent Verizon deal, the Alibaba shares are likely being spun off into a separate investment vehicle.
Ranked: The Top 50 Most Visited Websites in the World
In this visualization, we rank the top 50 websites that receive the most internet traffic, from Google to CNN.
Ranked: The Top 50 Most Visited Websites in the World
Estimates vary, but there are upwards of two billion websites in existence in 2023.
If we were to rank all of these websites according to their traffic numbers, we would see a classic power law distribution. At the low end, the vast majority of these websites would be inactive, receiving little to no traffic. On the upper end of the ranking though, a handful of websites receive the lion’s share of internet traffic.
This visualization, using data from SimilarWeb, takes a look at the 50 websites that currently sit at the top of the ranking.
Which Websites Get the Most Traffic?
Topping the list of most-visited websites in the world is, of course, Google. With over 3.5 billion searches per day, Google has cemented its position as the go-to source for information on the internet. But Google’s dominance doesn’t stop there. The company also owns YouTube, the second-most popular website in the world. Together, Google and YouTube have more traffic than the next 48 websites combined.
The power of YouTube, in particular, is sometimes not fully understood. The video platform is the second largest search engine in the world after Google. As well, YouTube has the second highest duration-of-visit numbers in this top 50 ranking. (First place goes to the Chinese video sharing website, Bilibili.)
But Google and YouTube aren’t the only big players on the internet. Other websites in the top 50 ranking include social media giants Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. In particular, TikTok has seen a surge in popularity in recent years and is now one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.
Here’s the full top 50 ranking table form:
|#1||google.com||85.1B||Search Engines||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#2||youtube.com||33.0B||Streaming & Online TV||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#3||facebook.com||17.8B||Social Media Networks||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#4||twitter.com||6.8B||Social Media Networks||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#5||instagram.com||6.1B||Social Media Networks||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#6||baidu.com||5.0B||Search Engines||🇨🇳 China|
|#7||wikipedia.org||4.8B||Dictionaries & Encyclopedias||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#8||yandex.ru||3.4B||Search Engines||🇷🇺 Russia|
|#9||yahoo.com||3.3B||News & Media Publishers||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#10||whatsapp.com||2.9B||Social Media Networks||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#16||yahoo.co.jp||2.1B||News & Media Publishers||🇯🇵 Japan|
|#17||netflix.com||2.0B||Streaming & Online TV||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#18||tiktok.com||1.8B||Social Media Networks||🇨🇳 China|
|#20||reddit.com||1.7B||Social Media Networks||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#21||office.com||1.6B||Prog. & Developer Software||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#22||linkedin.com||1.6B||Social Media Networks||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#23||dzen.ru||1.4B||Faith & Beliefs||🇷🇺 Russia|
|#24||samsung.com||1.4B||Consumer Electronics||🇰🇷 S. Korea|
|#25||vk.com||1.4B||Social Media Networks||🇷🇺 Russia|
|#27||turbopages.org||1.3B||News & Media Publishers||🇷🇺 Russia|
|#29||naver.com||1.2B||News & Media Publishers||🇰🇷 S. Korea|
|#30||bing.com||1.2B||Search Engines||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#31||microsoftonline.com||1.1B||Prog. & Developer Software||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#32||discord.com||1.1B||Social Media Networks||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#33||twitch.tv||1.1B||Gaming & Accessories||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#34||bilibili.com||1.0B||Animations & Comics||🇨🇳 China|
|#35||pinterest.com||1.0B||Social Media Networks||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#36||zoom.us||985.9M||Computers Electronics & Tech||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#38||qq.com||907.1M||News & Media Publishers||🇨🇳 China|
|#39||microsoft.com||902.3M||Prog. & Developer Software||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#40||msn.com||870.8M||News & Media Publishers||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#41||globo.com||840.1M||News & Media Publishers||🇧🇷 Brazil|
|#42||duckduckgo.com||839.0M||Search Engines||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#43||roblox.com||795.7M||Gaming & Accessories||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#44||quora.com||775.9M||Dictionaries & Encyclopedias||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#45||news.yahoo.co.jp||749.1M||News & Media Publishers||🇯🇵 Japan|
|#47||aajtak.in||724.1M||News & Media Publishers||🇮🇳 India|
|#48||nytimes.com||702.2M||News & Media Publishers||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|#50||cnn.com||684.9M||News & Media Publishers||🇺🇸 U.S.|
Notable companies that have fallen out of the top 50 since our last version of this visualization are Walmart and PayPal. Notable entrants into the top 50 are Samsung and the New York Times.
The Geography of the 50 Most-Visited Websites
The United States is still home base for many of the world’s biggest websites, taking up 30 spots on this ranking. Of these 30 websites, half are operated by Big Tech companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, and Netflix.
Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea round out the top five.
Things get interesting in the “other” category, which includes six websites. Two spots are taken up by Aaj Tak and Globo, which are large media publications in India and Brazil, respectively.
The remaining four websites—XVideos, PornHub, XHamster, and XNXX—specialize in adult content, and are located in a variety of countries. These are often referred to as “tube sites” since they are built on the YouTube model.
Realsrv, the only adult-oriented site in the top 50 located in the U.S., is interesting to delve into as well, since it’s far from a household name. The website essentially supports advertising efforts by redirecting users away from the content they were viewing over to another page (generally premium adult content). This is one of the key ways that adult websites earn revenue.
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