Portal player Yahoo will compete with Google and MSN in the desktop search arena, CEO Terry Semel told an audience at a Morgan Stanley investor conference.
Speaking at the investment bank’s Software, Services, Internet & Networking Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., Monday, Semel answered an audience member who had asked about Yahoo’s intention to keep up with Google’s innovation.
“You can feel sure that Yahoo will have its own desktop solution, that Yahoo has been working on it. It’s personalizing search, if you will,” said Semel. “In the short course, we will have a desktop solution, as well.”
Google recently introduced a desktop search product and has made acquisitions of mapping and photo management software in recent months. Microsoft’s MSN is also working on a desktop search solution, as well as a search engine. Smaller players like blinkx and Copernic also hope to make waves in the area.
Semel also sought to quell speculation that he was considering joining the Walt Disney Company, which is searching for a new leader after Michael Eisner announced his retirement.
“I enjoy being a builder,” Semel said.
Semel added that he had enjoyed driving growth in his previous role at Warner Bros., but a “caretaker” role didn’t suit him. Semel and his partner, Robert Daly, were credited with building Warner Bros. from a single revenue source player generating less than $1 billion to a firm bringing in nearly $11 billion in total revenues from multiple, diverse businesses.
At the investor conference, Semel also highlighted the increasing role personalization is playing at Yahoo Besides the desktop search product, Yahoo has released a beta of My Yahoo Search, which allows users to save their search results.
“Yahoo is approaching the personalization of search in three or four different directions,” he said.
Personalization will also play more of a role on the Yahoo home page in the coming months. The company only recently redesigned its home page, but Semel promised it was only the first phase of many. He painted a picture in which users could tailor the Yahoo home page to suit their particular interests.
“We want the home page to be totally personalized,” Semel said. “In the personalization of our home page you’ll really be in the driver’s seat.”