Can there be another Yahoo! Or for that matter a new Rediff?


The answer is – NO.

There can never be another Yahoo or AOL or Rediff. Its just not conceivable for anyone to start from scratch and build traffic that these portals have acquired over the years. A good friend recently estimated upwards of 200 crores to be the amount needed to achieve the scale that has today if one were to start as a standalone venture. And most of it will have to spent on product finesse – forget the ad spends that would be required to create awareness.


Even has not been able to reach the depth in the minds of the internet audience despite the 360 degree influence of Network18’s television channels.

Sure there will be Facebook’s and Twitter and Foursquare’ s that will dominate mind-space of the attention deficient blackberry boys and iPhone junkies. And the connected world might end up being in your back pocket via an app.

The value of the portals that have been around for the last ten odd years will never diminish. All other access points on the devices and the social media will just become the vehicles for the content on these portals to be consumed or discovered.

The problem here is then what happens to the carefully built up traffic of so many years. A survey done by AC Nielsen exactly a year ago (report here) says that while people still use portals and search engines for information, social media is increasingly becoming dominant.

It is clear then that anyone starting afresh will not just have to scale the traffic mountain and then create enough value for the consumer to adopt the content as their own.

The ‘my space is more valuable than your space’ phenomenon will come to play and increasingly more and more users would prefer to have a sort of a Facebook style page where things of interest come to them instead of going to twenty different places. Remember that when you click on a link shared by your friend on Facebook or twitter, you are sent to that page. In apps where content gets pulled from the repositories the same I assume would apply (please correct me if I am wrong).

The focus will have to move away from the homepage to specific interest areas that are likely to be adopted by consumers. This makes’s home page style have greater sense because I assume the grand man of Indian internet realizes that direct to homepage traffic will reduce over period in time and hence internal sub home pages are more likely to have greater value and hence be more valuable to advertisers.

I am sure sometime in the near future, we might have a Facebook OS powering a netbook which boots direct to FB using the interface as an window to what people who influence me are telling me. The only drawback is that I might miss out on the stuff that is not so popular, not top of mind. Then what do I do? Go back to the portal?

It is similar to going to the first 15% of a book shop; you will find all the stuff that everyone reads. But if your interest lies in Sufi poetry or screenplays, you will have to spend quality time trawling across the book store or even go to the gallis in fort seeking nirvana. To echo an old coffee ad for filter coffee – real pleasure cannot come in an instant.

The next 3 years will be the time for consolidation. No new yahoos will be born but the old ones will evolve, merge, be mashed up and exist as destinations and also as little niches in our hand held devices.

The dynamics of advertising itself will then have to change and the ecosystem will have to factor in a consumer who is far more evolved that the consumer of the last decade.

Thoughts welcome !

  1. chintan says

    portals are irrelevant today……traditional media outlets like NYT, hindustan times etc with online presence will dominate publishing of content in conjuction with social-media (user-driven). rediff is making losses and is publishing of content). google , twitter will facilitate searching this content.

    portals are dead. look at rediff – its trying to compete with media sites, bollywood magazines, blackberry (push mail), gmail, web hosting providers, gtalk , yahoo chat (with its own chatting program) etc . No focus , no market positioning. Look at its patethic financials

  2. M. Guha Rajan says

    Internet based E-commerce is an evolving field. Definetely, you might not have Yahoo or Rediff, even if there is going to be one it might not succeed as a Venture. The new ones coming up, if it need to succeed has to provide much more user friendly features which has more value compared earlier one….

    Also, to me timing is also important, blog writing (Blogspot, WordPress) became hit only after internet peneration was at higher level as compared to about 5 to 7 years back. If I remember right around year 2000’s we had website named tripod, which had some features for blog writing, But, unfortunately blog writting become more known post 2004.

    I also believe next wave would be around small web based E-commerce site. These companies might be run by a small group of people(5~10 people) with a virtual office or home based.

    1. Sunil R Nair says

      @m. guha ranjan : let there be a thousand e-comm sites ! but these ecomm sites will need anchors around which communities will grow.

  3. Sunil R Nair says

    Ah the master himself! :)

    I firmly believe that the only way ahead is consolidation for the portals. We might see the coming together of a few to create a monolithic portal. I do not see the portals going away anytime soon. Remember the whole devices in the back pocket is something that a certain class of people use. There is a massive consumer population waiting to taste the internet and even if they use the internet to download songs, games and movies, they will continue to use portals for much more than just entertainment.

    There will be blood most certainly but death is not likely anytime soon.


  4. Arun Prabhudesai says

    Hello Sunil,

    This is an interesting article to say the least, I for one think that it is a no-brainer considering current scenario,

    However, the bigger question is whether there is a need itself of AOL or Rediff or Yahoo….I for one…think they are going to die…forget about new one coming up…Have lots to write on this..will probably make a post in response to this :D

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