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Yahoo breathes sigh of relief: Delicious bought

After trying to unload the ailing social bookmarking service, Del.icio.us, Yahoo must have breathed a sigh of relief when on Wednesday it was able to announce its successful sale to web entrepreneurs and YouTube co-founders, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen.

In describing itself on its site, Delicious states:

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Delicious is the leading social bookmarking service for saving, sharing, and discovering web bookmarks. Started in 2003 and acquired by Yahoo! in 2005, Delicious has built a passionate, worldwide community of millions of users

None of this is false, but it certainly downplays Delicious’s recent tumultuous past.

After having acquired Delicious in 2005 for an estimated (though never confirmed) figure of between US$15million – US$30 million, Yahoo presided over a period of disappointing growth for the company. Then in December of last year Yahoo announced employee lay-offs and very quickly rumours began to spread that the entire Delicious team had been axed. As a result of this rumour, fear and anxiety spread amongst users of Delicious as reports began circulating that the service was being shut-down.

However Yahoo quickly came out with the clarification that, as was much expected, they were not closing the service but rather seeking buyers for it. As Delicious wrote in its official blog, “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”, and it would seem that ideal home is Hurley and Chen’s new California-based internet company Avos.

Though no figure was released for how much Hurley and Chen paid for Delicious, with their US$1.76 billion windfall from the sale of YouTube to Google 18 months after they had founded it in 2005, no figure would have been too much.

Downplaying how much Yahoo had been trying to dispose of Delicious, in the official press statement, Yahoo Senior Vice President of Communications and Communities, John Matheny said of the sale, “We spoke with numerous parties interested in acquiring the site, and chose Chad and Steve based on their passion and unique vision for Delicious.”

What Hurley and Chen have in store for the company, nobody can say, but as this is the first acquisition for their company, they must certainly have a plan, as they put it:

“We’re excited to work with this fantastic community and take Delicious to the next level. We see a tremendous opportunity to simplify the way users save and share content they discover anywhere on the web.”

It will most certainly be interesting to watch just how Hurley and Chen’s Avos plans to save this seemingly sinking ship.

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