Yahoo’s stock declined 22% today after the company missed analysts’ quarterly estimates and announced its new advertising system, codenamed Panama, was delayed. I think of many failures when I hear the term “Panama” but the first thing that popped to mind in Yahoo’s case is Scotland and its Darien scheme.
Towards the end of the 17th century Scotland realized it was falling behind the rest of Europe and undertook a few initiatives to modernize the country and better compete with the new economies of Europe. The Company of Scotland was created to establish new trade routes with Africa and the Indies, the popular trading spots of the day. Scotland invested about a third of its wealth in establishing a new trading colony in Panama, opening new possibilities for the country.
The effort failed within a year partially because two huge empires in the region, England and Spain, were not too happy about Scotland’s presence. Scotland was essentially bankrupt from the operation and had little choice but to accept England’s treasure chest and become part of the British Empire.
There is also the history of warring generals, dictators, and general disease that kept people away from the small strip of trading space for so many decades.
Building a new ad platform is not an easy thing, but perhaps the yodelers could have picked a better codename.