The Rise and Fall Of Major Web Companies (Infographic)

Today, it is very hard to see how a major web company like Google, Facebook or Amazon someday would lose big parts of its enormous grasp and influence over the online world. It is even harder to imagine these kind of companies disappear completely.

But as history shows us, it happens.

There are many examples for major web companies that over the course of time simply withered. Sometimes it happened when a new better competitor arrived and risen on its expense, and sometimes it just happened when the company didn’t keep up with the fast pace of the internet.

Take Yahoo for example. It dominated the web at the beginning of the millennium and it seemed so innovative, powerful, unstoppable. But then, as Yahoo stopped significantly renewing and innovating, Google kept taking more and more of its shares and eventually also its place.

Today, even though Yahoo still considered as a big web company it is very far from the influence and dominance it had back in its glory days. Sadly, it looks like that instead of trying to return to innovate, Yahoo is now occupied with BS lawsuits.

To emphasis how volatile this whole online industry is, I’ve found a great infographic from CenturyLink (you can find it at the bottom) that shows web companies that in the past were one of the biggest web companies in the world and today they are much less. If you like a text a version, here’s the infographic transcript:


  • 1991- Founded as America Online.
  • 1993- Added USENET access to its features.
  • 1996- Monthly payments are initiated.
  • 2001- Merged with Time Warner.
  • 2003- Launched AOL for Broadband.
  • 2005- Launched and Telepictures Productions.
  • 2006- Lowered prices.
  • 2006- Conducted massive layoffs.
  • 2008- Sold off significant amounts of hardware.
  • 2010- Signed agreement to acquire TechCrunch.
  • 2011- Bough the Huffington Post for $315 million.


  • 1994- Founded by Jerry Yang and David Filo.
  • 1995- Raised $2 million in venture capital.
  • 1996- Joined by Jeff Mallett.
  • 2000- Stock closed at $475.
  • 2001- Fired Jeff Mallett, the genius behind Yahoo’s growth.
  • 2002- Tried to buy Google for $3 billion, offer was refused.
  • 2004- Launched its own web-crawling algorithm, similar to Google.
  • 2004- Stock dropped to an abysmal $4.05.
  • 2007- CEO quit, Jerry Yang took over the position.
  • 2008- Yang refused to sell Yahoo to Microsoft for $47.5 billion, shareholders angered.


  • 1995- Founded.
  • 1996- Became sole search provider for Yahoo.
  • 1998- Reached 13 million queries per day.
  • 2000- Filed for IPO, which was canceled due to bubble burst.
  • 2003- Bought by Overture Service Inc., which was then acquired by Yahoo.
  • 2010- Yahoo employee leaked slides about AltaVista shutdown.
  • 2011- Finally shut down for good.


  • 2004- Launched, gains 1 million users.
  • 2005- Bought by NewCorp’s Fox Interactive Media.
  • 2007- Bought My Photobucket for $250 million.
  • 2008- Overtaken by Facebook for total users.
  • 2008- Launched music store with full-length audio streaming.
  • 2009- Key personnel left for other ventures.
  • 2011- Amount of visitors declined by a staggering 14.4%.
  • 2011- Announced layoffs of 50% of staff.


  • 2004- Founded by Kevin Rose.
  • 2005- Added friends list and redesigned interface.
  • 2007- Redesigned interface again.
  • 2008- Visitors count grew to 236 million.
  • 2008- Tried to sell to Google for $200 million, lost $4 million in first 3 quarters.
  • 2010- Massive site overhaul caused user backlash, most leave for Reddit.
  • 2011- Still has some activity.


  • 2004- Founded.
  • 2006- Reached 20 million active users.
  • 2007- Launched Facebook ads.
  • 2010- Reached 400 million active users.
  • 2011- Reached over 750 million active users.
  • 2012- Filed with SEC for IPO.

The average number of years before major online company hits bottom is 11 years. Facebook is 8 years old.

Here’s the infographic with full details:

Web Companies Rise and Fall Infographic