YouTube Founders Buy Bookmarking Service Delicious From Yahoo!

Delicious, the original king of shared online bookmarking, is now in the hands of YouTube’s founders, after a popular outcry saved it from being shut down by Yahoo.

Yahoo! sold Delicious to YouTube founders Steve Chen (left) and Chad Hurley, who promised to continue and grow the popular social bookmarking site. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Photo: Dan Farber/Flickr

Fans of Delicious, Yahoo!’s online bookmarking service, raised a ruckus after word leaked four months ago that its owner might shutter it as part of a streamlining plan. To deflect criticism, Yahoo! quickly reassured users that it was trying to find Delicious a new home rather than kill it.

And on Wednesday, Yahoo! sold Delicious to YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who promised to continue and grow the popular social bookmarking site. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Delicious makes it clear in a FAQ about the deal that user data will be preserved and that the new team will “add new features and grow the service overall.” Yahoo does ask that users sign in to Delicious “and agree to let Yahoo! transfer your bookmarks to the new owner,” before the move is completed in July.

Hurley and Chen, who sold YouTube to Google for $1.65 billion in 2006, said they planned to integrate Delicious with their new San Mateo, California-based Internet company AVOS. AVOS says building a Firefox 4 plug-in for Delicious is a top priority.

“We’re excited to work with this fantastic community and take Delicious to the next level,” AVOS chief executive Hurley said in a statement. “We see a tremendous opportunity to simplify the way users save and share content they discover anywhere on the Web,” Hurley said.

The YouTube co-founders said they would seek to use Delicious to “develop innovative features to help solve the problem of information overload.” Chen said: “We see this problem not just in the world of video, but also cutting across every information-intensive media type.”

Hurley and Chen are both part of the so-called Paypal Mafia – former PayPal employees who are responsible for founding sites ranging from Yelp to Slide and funding numerous other ventures, including Facebook.

“They’re [YouTube Founders] aggressively hiring to build a world-class team to take on the challenge of building the best information discovery service on the Web,” according to the AVOS website.

Delicious appeared in December on a leaked Yahoo roadmap, alongside seven others including AllTheWeb and Buzz, as products that Yahoo was going to kill off. (Note: Yahoo says the plan all along was to sell Delicious, though other products on the sunset slide have just been shutdown, such as MyBlogLog.)

John Matheny, senior vice president of communications and communities for Yahoo, said in a statement that “we spoke with numerous parties interested in acquiring the site, and chose Chad and Steve based on their passion and unique vision for Delicious.”

Yahoo! said it will continue to operate Delicious until July, when users will transitioned over to AVOS. The company also said the sale of Delicious was part of a product strategy that “involves shifting our investment with off-strategy products to put better focus on our core strengths and fund new innovation.”

“We believe this is the right move for the service, our users and our shareholders and look forward to watching the Delicious technology develop,” Yahoo! said.

Delicious, which has millions of users around the world, was launched in 2003 and bought by Yahoo! in 2005. [Header image via Gabriel Flores Romero/Flickr; via Mashable, Yahoo! and NY Times]

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