Yahoo! again

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Yahoo! has a chance to build a real, big business. To be sure, that sentence could have been written at other times in the past-when Yahoo! began selling ads (1995), when its soaring IPO gave it capital and cachet (1996), when it made money (1999), when it surpassed $1 billion in revenue (2000). Then the Net economy collapsed. But Yahoo! has used its downtime to assemble a team that can get a great brand back on track.

Following the Net ad implosion, Yahoo! must find new ways to convert its global audience of 217 million users into revenue and profits. To do so, Yahoo! has recruited a new and solid management team. Its members have experience on both the big brands of the old economy and the successes and failures of the new economy. All parties join Yahoo! with their eyes wide open.

The average age of the 10 senior executives on the Yahoo! organizational chart Ad Age published last week is 47. Yahoo! has recruited industry veterans, such as North American operating chief Greg Coleman (Reader's Digest Association), sales chief Wenda Harris Millard (Harvard MBA, Gruner & Jahr, DoubleClick) and marketing chief John Costello (Ad Age Power 50, Sears, the fizzled MVP.com).

Whether Yahoo! has better prospects as an independent or as a unit of a bigger media company is open to debate. It clearly faces a tough challenge in competing against more diversified rivals such as AOL Time Warner and Microsoft Corp. And Yahoo!'s executives must prove they can act as a team. But if they do, Yahoo! has another chance to make a serious play.

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