The 12 years old billboard installed in 1999, was doing praises of Yahoo! with the sentence : “A nice place to stay on the internet”. It was the symbol of technological renewal in San Francisco. So now The Yahoo! outdoor sign installed in the midst Internet bubble has been removed by Clear Channel after a decade.
Everybody remember this sign on Highway 101 in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, California, the beloved and famous Yahoo! billboard which was full of neon lights and oft-changing funny messages. It was like a neighbour to all inhabitants of this area.
It is hard to imagine anyone shedding tears over the loss of a billboard, but a lot of San Franciscans found their eyes watering up the day it has been taken down. Before being removed, many people fought against the loss of this icon of the dot.com era thanks to petitions and Facebook groups like “Save the Yahoo! billboard”.
The creators of this sign, Steve Stone and Bob Kerstetter (from the ad agency Black Rocket) thought it would be up only for one or two years and finally stayed for a decade. They both also remember the best messages on the sign, their favourite ones are “You look cute today” and the guy who proposed his girlfriend in the message space.
Apparently, Yahoo! did not want to pay the monthly sum (between US$ 65,000 and US$85,000) to keep this panel and prefer to focus on new and more innovative communication.
Many people say that the abandonment of this billboard testifies the decline of the company.
Many people do not really understand why Yahoo! didn’t continue its communication through this billboard because it had a lot of success and gave a good image of Yahoo! during this hard period for the company. Yahoo! had shown a negative image those last years. In 2008, the shareholders of Yahoo! neglected two major proposals: one on censorship, another one on Human Rights … In 2007, a mother of a Chinese journalist who has been sent to jail “thanks” to the information provided by Yahoo! China, filed a complaint against Yahoo!. This case poisoned the reputation of Yahoo! for many years. Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, was sentenced to ten years in prison in April 2005 for “revealing state secrets” to be transmitted abroad for official instructions to the Chinese media on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. During his trial, it has been discovered that Chinese police had been traced back to him through the information provided by Yahoo! the e-mail account of Shi Tao, yet registered with Yahoo Hong Kong and not mainland China.
Then, in 2006, Reporters Without Borders tested at the time the various search engines present in China: Yahoo! won handily the censorship tests, beating Google, and Baidu …
Now, it seems as though San Francisco will lose something that most people forget soon after they pass by, but which will always have a place in their hearts.