Yahoo!'s webmail product is rated as even better than Google's, the Flickr photo-sharing service remains a Web 2.0 darling and market leader.

Global HQ: San Francisco, US Website:

Global leader: Jerry Yang, founder and CEO

Local leader: Kevin Bowler, CEO, Yahoo!Xtra New Zealand

Core activity: Consumer technology, mobility

Revenue: US$6.969 billion (FY07 ended December)

Key customers: Internet users, publishers, advertisers (all major NZ-based advertising agencies) and developers

Employees: 14,300

Deep beneath the earth of Switzerland and France, the astoundingly elaborate Large Hadron Collider is trying to discern fundamental facts about the universe. In the IT industry, meanwhile, many wonder if a similarly refined instrument will be required to determine just how Yahoo! will ever become more valuable than the US$35 billion Microsoft was willing to spend to acquire the internet pioneer in early 2008.

Repelling the takeover offer resulted in IT’s premier soap opera for 2008, with board-level convulsions and occasional indications that perhaps the deal could be on again persisted for months after the final, formal rebuff. Yet at the time of writing, the company’s share price had slipped beneath US$17, a far cry from the US$33 Microsoft offered a few months earlier and 10 dollars less than the company’s share price a year ago.

The company is still valuable. Indeed, Yahoo! has some really cool stuff. Its webmail product is rated as even better than Google’s, the flickr photo-sharing service remains a Web 2.0 darling and market leader. The company also possesses a mature and well-received search advertising platform and is clearly capable of innovating for the Web 2.0 age, as shown by products like its “Pipes” mashup creation tool and hosted videoconferencing tool. It also has a revenue-producing alliance with Google that should boost revenues, which dipped a little below market expectations in its last reported quarter. Simon Sharwood

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