Yahoo Is Inviting Partners to Build on Its Search Power


Unable to beat Google in the Web search business on its own, Yahoo is trying a new approach.
Yahoo wants to enlist a small army of search start-ups as allies in the hope that collectively they will be able to stop the Google juggernaut, whose share of Web searches keeps growing.
To do so, on Thursday Yahoo is opening its search technology and powerful data centers to other companies, allowing them to build new or customized search engines without having to make the huge investments needed to develop a search service from scratch.
Yahoo, in turn, will sell ads on those new search engines; if some grab even small slivers of the search market, Yahoo will share in their success.
Yahoo’s future remains uncertain. Hoping to seize on growing shareholder dissatisfaction, Carl C. Icahn, the activist investor, is trying to wrest control of the company from Yahoo’s board and management team. Microsoft might renew its bid for Yahoo if Mr. Icahn succeeds.
Yahoo executives said they had high hopes for the new strategy, which they call Boss, or build your own search service.
“Over the course of years, we want this to be much more than a blip,” said Prabhakar Raghavan, head of research and search strategy at Yahoo. Mr. Raghavan showed a pie chart in which a hypothetical collective market share of the new search engine had grown to be comparable to Yahoo’s own. He joked that the chart was a “pie in the sky” and would not discuss actual market share estimates or timelines.
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