Is Facebook the Geocities of today?

WSJ: For Facebook, GeoCities Offers a Cautionary Tale: Can Rise and Fall of Once-Hot Site Sway Decisions on Funding, IPO?

Geocities was one of the hottest properties of the internet in the mid-1990s. Lots of folks built their first sites and posted their first photos on Geocities. It also led to several clones, Angelcities, Tripod and others. Geocities was purchased by Yahoo, Tripod was purchased by Lycos. It was the early days when search engines were expanding to portals.

And now there’s Facebook,, digg and mySpace. From WSJ: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was 10 years old when David Bohnett, then a 37-year-old mainframe programmer, hatched an idea: Set up a Web-based “community” where young people could divulge their most intimate feelings.

Good story on how fleeting hot on the internet can be, how companies often spend billions to buy stuff and then not know what do with it and how hard it is to build a sustainable long-term business

“It’s not that easy to monetize social media,” says Eric Hippeau, a managing partner of Softbank Capital that made more than 20 times its investment in GeoCities. He also sits on Yahoo’s board. “Once Microsoft’s deal with Facebook expires, as does Google’s deal with MySpace, they’re going to have to sell advertising for themselves and it’s going to be a challenge.” So far, he says, “it’s not that easy to match the right advertising with the right audience.”

Facebook is still a hot property. The day before WSJ’s article, Microfsoft was eyeing an investing up to $500 million for a 5 percent stake in Facebook. WSJ has some of the history of Geocities, as does Wikepedia’s history of Geocities.

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