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It's easy to forget how important GeoCities was, in the days before WordPress and social networks. Founded in 1994 as Beverley Hills Internet (BHI), the original version of the service was a web directory that let users place their own pages in virtual 'cities', corresponded to their subject matter.
Community elements such as chat were added, and at the end of 1995 the service became known as GeoCities — previously it was called GeoPages. Adverts were first placed on people's pages in 1997. Later that year, GeoCities got its millionth user. In 1998 the company went public, and the following year it was the third-most-visited site on the internet.
Not long before the dotcom bubble burst, GeoCities was taken over in 1999 by Yahoo for $3.57bn. The new owners instituted new terms of service, claiming ownership over all content put on GeoCities pages. Users left in droves, and Yahoo performed a dramatic U-turn. The service was unprofitable and stayed so, despite Yahoo's 2001 attempt at a launching a paid premium version of the service. Yahoo closed GeoCities down in 2009, and it remains one of the prime examples of a popular service failing due to its inability to make money.
Screenshot: Internet Archive Wayback Machine