Yahoo pulls the plug on GeoCities

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc is shutting down GeoCities, a free service that hosts personal home pages for consumers, which it acquired for more than $4 billion 10 years ago during the heyday of the dotcom boom.

People walk past Yahoo! offices in Santa Monica, California, May 19, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

A posting on a Yahoo Help page for GeoCities on Thursday said the service was no longer accepting new customers and that it will be closing later this year, with more details about how individuals can save their data coming this summer.

The move comes a few days after Yahoo said it would lay off nearly 700 workers, or 5 percent of its workforce.

Since Chief Executive Carol Bartz took the reins in January, Yahoo has pruned various products and properties to cut costs and focus on fundamentals, as it seeks to revive growth in a tough economy and fierce competition from Google Inc.

Last week, Yahoo said it was shutting down Jumpcut, an online service for editing videos.

Yahoo acquired GeoCities in 1999 in a stock deal valued at roughly $4.6 billion, Reuters reported at the time.

GeoCities was among the first companies to build online communities, with more than 3.5 million websites hosted on its service in the late 1990s.

But GeoCities fell out of favor in recent years, as a generation of social network sites such as Facebook and News Corp’s Myspace have become popular among Web users.

“We have decided to discontinue the process of allowing new customers to sign up for GeoCities accounts as we focus on helping our customers explore and build new relationships online in other ways,” Yahoo said in a statement.

“As part of Yahoo’s ongoing effort to build products and services that deliver the best possible experiences for consumers and results for advertisers, we are increasing investment in some areas while scaling back in others.”

Shares of Yahoo were up a penny to $14.49 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.

Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic, editing by Leslie Gevirtz