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Today I attended my first shareholders' meeting ever. It was Yahoo!'s annual shareholders' meeting, held at the Santa Clara, CA Marriott Hotel. About 200-300 people attended. I took notes on things that caught my attention, so this coverage is by no means complete. Tim Koogle did most of the speaking, and he did a good job. He used a lap top to change viewgraphs on two projection screens on either side of himself. I'll put a section about the goodies at the end of this report.

My big question going into the meeting was the effect of the AOL-TWX merger on Yahoo!. I was thinking that people with broadband access in their homes (who are Time Warner customers) will always be getting hit with an AOL startup page that will have the ability to be customized just for them. Then these folks would be hooked on AOL and not use Yahoo!. I imagined a similar scenario with Excite@Home and its cable partners AT&T, Cox, and Comcast. Ditto for wireless access as that becomes more popular (like Excite@Home and AT&T teaming up for that too).

A person asked this question to which Tim Koogle replied that the more people on the web, the better for Yahoo.! Yahoo! intends to compete by offering superior services. I actually came up with my own answer during the presentation, so I didn't even want to ask the question. There are two main things to consider. First, Yahoo! feels that it is entrenched with users at work, where they essentially already have broadband. These users have already set up their own Yahoo! environments, and then will go right to them when at home, no matter how they get on the internet. So that's Yahoo's strategy there.

The other thing that I just did not get before the meeting is that United States domestic home use of Yahoo! is by no means its only source of audience (and, therefore, revenue). Yahoo! is also working hard to get business customers to have Yahoo! host them, and to have them be part of Yahoo!'s commerce network. Another big area of expansion is that Yahoo! is going global in a big way. I believe Koogle stated that there are now 23 Yahoo!'s out there. Incidentally, Yahoo! owns a minority stake in Yahoo! Japan, a majority stake in 3 European Yahoo!'s (UK, Germany, and one other), and owns all of the other ones. So when looking at the world of Yahoo!, domestic home use just isn't that much; and Yahoo! has (or will have) a lot of it anyway.

Also, regarding wireless access, I caught something about an agreement with Sprint to do some wireless stuff. They had a display to which I didn't get which had cellular phones and personal digital assistants.

Okay, now for some tidbits. They flashed up ratings from advertisers about which web sites they liked the best; presumably the best means that they get the most revenue from it. Yahoo! was way ahead at 48.7%. Second was AOL at 29.5%, third and fourth were a tie between MSN and Excite at 6.4% each. I didn't catch the others, but you get the idea.

Gary Valenzuela spoke a little bit about revenue growth. First of all, Yahoo! is growing in many ways. The audience is growing in number, especially globally (internationally). Yahoo! is getting more clients, merchants, and partnerships. The number of page views is increasing. Though revenues are growing, he wanted to stress that the diversification of the revenue stream is growing in many ways. Old sources are diversifying as they get more advertisers (for example); new sources are coming in all of the time. Sources outside of the US are increasing, yielding yet further diversification. The effect of all of this diversification is to stabilize the revenue stream in case segments of it ever slow or fail.

Finally, Tim Koogle tried to clear up that Yahoo! is not a search engine or a portal, but a Global Branded Network. These people want to make Yahoo! THE internet experience in every way: communication, information retrieval, commerce, etcetera. That's the goal.

Okay, this ends the main part of the post. Hope you enjoyed it.


Goodies: we got a goody-bag with a pen (Yahoo! Finance), a t-shirt (commemorating the meeting), and a purple Yahoo! baseball (Yahoo! Sports). They also had a book of postcards (about Yahoo!) that's pretty nice; lots of classic (old) photos in there. They had some fruit, pastries, juice, and coffee there for us.
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