Many wondered what the meaning was behind Verizon's (VZ) corporate rebranding following its $4.48 billion acquisition of Yahoo's core digital business. Others, meanwhile, began questioning if two of the most iconic and long-lived web brands would continue to survive.
Luckily for those clinging to their cherished internet brands, AOL has confirmed that it and Yahoo will live on even after Verizon decides to #TaketheOath, presumably in the next few months. In an interview with CNBC, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong emphasized that the two brands (and their popular properties) will continue to exist on their own, but that the name Oath would be a way to house the more than 25 brands that will be combined once the deal closes.
"It actually clears the lane for us to really promote Yahoo and AOL and TechCrunch and Huffington Post and Moviefone," Armstrong explained. "Some of the reaction you see to the brand, I think, is short-term thinking."
While it seems clear the Yahoo! brand will continue to exist, the company's near-death experience was enough to conjure memories of some of the ghosts of the internet's past. Here's a collection of some of the internet's most memorable brands that are now defunct or have since been rebranded:
Netscape was the company behind the first widely-used internet browser of the nascent world wide web way back in 1994. The browser, called Netscape Navigator, was the catalyst for the browser wars that proceeded throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s between Netscape, Microsoft's (MSFT) Internet Explorer and, later, Mozilla Firefox, Apple's (AAPL) Safari and Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google Chrome. Netscape was a publicly traded stock under the ticker NSCP, until 1998, when it was purchased by AOL for $4.2 billion. The NetScape home page from the 90s, complete with descriptions of what a hyperlink is, can still be visited here, however.
Editors' pick: Originally published April 5.
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Ask.com, formerly known as Ask Jeeves, was launched in 1996 as a search engine that produced answers in "natural language." The search engine, which became a public company trading under the symbol ASKJ, was widely recognized for its mascot, a butler named Jeeves. But the character was eventually retired when IAC/InterActiveCorp (IAC) acquired Ask Jeeves for $1.85 billion in 2005. Ask Jeeves still exists, but it's primarily a question-and-answer service, having largely lost the search engine market to Google.
One of the world's first web-based email services, Hotmail was started in 1996 and acquired by Microsoft in 1997 for $400 million. After several iterations, it was rebranded as Outlook.com in 2013. But many users are still able to send and receive emails today using their @hotmail.com addresses, although they're likely to be derided for it.
Launched in 2007, Justin.tv was one of the early pioneers of live streaming, allowing everyday users to create channels where they could broadcast live content, similar to Google's YouTube. The website's popular video game streaming section, Twitch.tv, was spun off in 2011 and Justin TV was shut down in 2014 to focus on the video game content. Twitch was bought that same year by Amazon (AMZN) for $970 million.
Before Google launched its flagship social media platform, Google Plus, it had Orkut. The networking site, launched in 2004, was named after Google employee Orkut Buyukkokten and quickly became one of the most-visited websites in India and Brazil. In 2014, Google stopped allowing users to create Orkut accounts and Buyukkokten went on to create Hello, another social media network.
Created in 1994, GeoCities was a popular web hosting service that was known for its unique, albeit tacky, personalization tools. GeoCities was once the third-most visited website on the internet and traded on the Nasdaq under the ticker GCTY. It was later purchased by Yahoo for $5 billion in 1999, renamed Yahoo! GeoCities and now only operates in Japan.
CMGI became famous in the 1990s as an incubator for internet companies and one of the best-performing Internet stocks of the time. It gained popularity for web brands including the browser AltaVista, and even won the naming rights to the home stadium of the New England Patriots. However, it later became a symbol of the dot-com bubble after many of its early-stage companies flamed out and its stock lost most of its value. In 2008, the company changed its name to ModusLink Global Solutions (MLNK) and refocused its efforts on providing supply chain management services. It's still traded today, although its market cap is only about $100 million.
Excite launched in 1995 as a search engine, email client and web portal, similar to MSN. It eventually became one of the most-recognized brands on the internet due to its collection of webpages, leading the internet provider @Home to acquire it for $7.5 billion in 1999 -- one of the largest internet deals at the time. The combined company, renamed Excite@Home (then trading as ATHM), later filed for bankruptcy in 2001. Excite@Home also sued Comcast (CMCSA) in 2002 over allegations of insider dealing.
Created in 2002, Friendster was one of the first social media networks to launch on the internet, many years before the rise of popular platforms like Facebook (FB) and MySpace. Google tried to buy the company for $30 million in 2003, but the company rebuffed their offer. Friendster eventually attempted to relaunch as a social gaming company in 2011, but has since shut down entirely.