NEW YORK—Call it a death yelp. Yahoo, the once-dominant search engine and Web portal, entertained big ideas for its farewell tour, something on par with Coachella or Bonnaroo. Unable drive traffic like it once did, the company instead was forced to downsize its real-world ambitions and stream its swansong over the Web.
True to form, Yahoo’s “Countdown Tour”—365 consecutive days of live concerts marking the company’s steady decline into irrelevance—began with little fanfare earlier this month. The Dave Matthews Band kicked off the death march with a concert in Jacksonville, Fla., streamed for free on Screen, Yahoo’s answer to Google-owned YouTube.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was “totally stoked” about the potential for the series to remind people that her company still exists—for another 350 days or so. She noted, “Believe it or not, DMB predated Yahoo by a few years, and they’re still around.”
The ‘90s nostalgia was running high, as Yahoo’s bygone CEOs reunited for one last hoorah. Yahoo’s first CEO, Tim Koogle [no relation to Google], crowd-surfed his way to center stage, where he joined the seven chief executive officers that have succeeded him in their desperate bid to sustain the company.
“Our hope,” said Yahoo’s Kathy Savitt, “is that you will go to hear your favorites, and discover some new band and say, ‘This is becoming my daily habit.’
“Much like Yahoo! 360º and Geocities continue to play an important part in your daily routine,” she added.
Not everyone is abiding by the company’s request that the vigil “be a light and optimistic affair.” Brad Hunstable, the chief executive of Ustream, had a warning for Yahoo. “If you think you can get millions of people to watch online just because you’re a big-name artist, you’re probably going to be disappointed.”
Live Nation is responsible for booking and managing the shows for Yahoo, while Google has been contracted to oversee logistics, cloud computing, and directions for the bands’ tour buses.
If you miss one of the concerts, “don’t worry,” says Yahoo’s chief marketing officer. “You can always just Google it and watch the replay.”