It's the circle of (web) life!

Picture Terry Semel holding a little lion cub up in the air with both arms extended. What's that? It's the Circle of Life! Well, maybe Circle of Life 2.0? Okay, enough Lion King -- maybe it's just Justin Timberlake again: "What Goes Around... Comes Around".

The story I'm referring to is how each half-decade's web love story begets its successor for the attention and adoration of the press, the stock market, and the public at large.

web-circle.pngIn the beginning, there was Netscape, and it was good. But the old-timers among you will recall that Netscape began as Mosaic Communications Corporation, based on the old Mosaic browser. When that name became unusable, the codename for the browser being built was naturally named after the terrible lizard that would cause Mosaic's demise: Mozilla.

Among the many kind things the Netscape kids did (giving us a free email client, open-sourcing the code once they sold out to AOL, indirectly funding a nightclub in San Francisco), they decided to feature amongst their default links an up-and-coming web directory called Yahoo! The prominence of the nascent Yahoo site on the young Netscape browser's toolbar in an era when there were so few comprehensive guides to the web helped cement the company's position in the vanguard of web companies.

Fast forward a few years, and among the many kind things the Yahoo kids did (giving us free email, hooking Flickr up to Target once they bought the photo-sharing site, enticing Scientologists to visit), they decided to feature as their default search technology an up-and-coming web search technology company called Google. The prominence of the nascent Google engine atop the maturing Yahoo site's directory in an era when search had been largely abandoned helped cement the company's position in the vanguard of web companies.

Fast forward a few years, and among the many kind things the Google kids did (giving us free email, trying to give us free WiFi in San Francisco, building the memex), they decided to feature as their preferred browser technology an up-and-coming web browser technology called Mozilla Firefox. The prominence of the nascent Firefox download amongst Google's software offerings in an era when browser development had been largely abandoned helped cement the browser's position in the vanguard of web technologies.

This concludes today's history lesson. We have provided, above, an educational infographic offering a detailed look at the flow of linky-love between these Internet behemoths.

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