With each new backwards somersault in the never-ending dive of Yahoo! into the abyss, I keep remembering the first movie I can recall that included an internet startup’s business success in the story line.
It was the Dennis Quaid film that came out in the year 2000, Frequency. It was a, hmm, science fiction, time travel, alternative history, kind of movie that revolved around the easily believable premise that Quaid’s son, as an adult in the year 2000, could use a ham radio to talk with his father who was living back in the year, 1970. Apparently, if you understand how sun spots work, you’ll find this premise very plausible (if you live in Hollywood).
Quaid’s son used this time-warping communication power to warn his fireman father that, unless he watched out, he would die in a fire the following night (convenient timing for that sun spot, no?) After that worked out, Quaid’s son told him how to keep his wife’s (the son’s mother) from being murdered. If you’ve read the most recent Stephen King novel, 11/22/63, you’ll understand why you shouldn’t go around messing with history next time you have the chance to travel back in time and fix something that needs fixing. But in the movie Frequency, everything works out just fine.
Indeed, things work out so fine in Frequency, that Quaid’s son not only saves the lives of his father and mother, he tells his dad to inform Gordo, the best friend of the son, to remember the word “Yahoo” when he grows up.
So Gordo, grows up and invests early in Yahoo! and in the year, 2000, Gordo’s Yahoo! stock has made him rich. So rich, that at the end of the film, there is a feel-good scene during which an old Dennis Quaid and his wife are playing softball and a foul ball busts the headlight of Gordo’s Mercedes — and we get to marvel at how rich Gordo is, as we see his New York vainty car tag enscribed with Yahoo 1.
It’s hard to believe today, but back in Bubble 1.0, the term “Yahoo!” didn’t just mean, Internet startup, it was the internet company that had become the pervasive pop-culture metaphor for “getting rich.”
Almost at the precise moment the film Frequency came out, the pop culture meaning of Yahoo! started a journey that would reposition the company’s brand to mean pretty much anything but getting rich. Or being smart. Or being anything, but “formerly important.”
If Frequency were to be remade, Dennis Quaid’s son would be telling his son to dump Yahoo! the day after the softball game.