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October 26, 2007

The exclamation mark at the end of Yahoo's official name is beginning to feel ironic. As Google and Microsoft roll up property rights across the web, Yahoo, writes the Economist, "now looks really forlorn":

It has been outmanoeuvred by everybody in the acquisition game. It keeps losing to Google in search and advertising, and unlike Microsoft it has no software-licence revenues to fall back on. Last week it shut down its own social network, Yahoo 360°, and hardly anybody noticed.


Earlier this month, Yahoo announced a modest upward bump in quarterly revenues, and its stock price is up significantly from the depressed levels of the summer. Still, there's little evidence of a full-scale turnaround. Jerry Yang's 100-day "strategic review" of the business has come and gone, and far from slaughtering the company's "sacred cows," as he promised, Yang seems content to try to milk them. In a conference call with analysts following the last earnings report, he said that the company's goal is to "become the starting point for the most consumers on the Internet." Yang uses the new p-word - "platform" - but it still looks like the old portal strategy.

One of Yahoo's big problems is that, with just a couple of billion dollars in hand, it doesn't have the kind of cash that Google ($13 billion) and Microsoft ($21 billion) have or the kind of richly valued stock that Google has - at a time when the web's emerging oligopolists are plowing capital into both real estate (in the form of data centers) and virtual estate (in the form of web partnerships and acquisitions). Can Yahoo survive on its own? Sure, but barring a technological breakthrough it's unlikely to remain one of the web's giants. The exclamation mark may have to go.


Yahoo!'s aggressive acquisition of Zimbra is an interesting play.

Looks like a neutralizer of Exchange|Sharepoint with a strong catalyst among accounts who are reluctant to do another round of Monopoly.

More to follow.

Though your premise is unassailable in the present tense.

Posted by: Sam at October 26, 2007 06:15 PM

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