Yahoo!, the target of a 44.6-billion-dollar (30-billion-euro) offer from Microsoft, is one of the most popular Internet search engines but its fortunes have suffered due to Google's unrelenting rise.
The company was set up in 1994 by David Filo and Jerry Yang, both students at Stanford University in California, starting off as a simple phone book on the Web. It gets its name from "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle," which is how it was dubbed at the beginning.
It was listed on the stockmarket in 1996 and is based in Sunnyvale, California, with offices in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australia and Canada.
Currently chairman, Jerry Yang returned to the group last June as its results fell in the face of ever increasing competition from Google.
By the end of 2007, Yahoo! was ranked second in the Internet search market, with a share of 12.8 per cent but dwarfed by Google with 62.4 per cent, according to industry monitor Comscore.
Besides its core search function, Yahoo! also offers an instant message service, news access with audio and visual feeds and personalised web pages.
For business, it offers several services aimed at helping companies boost their presence on the Internet.
It has stakes in several other companies, including online shopping with alibaba.com, Flickr for photo blogs and Kelkoo, which compares prices.
For 2007, the company reported a net profit of 660 million dollars, down 12.1 per cent as Yahoo! boosted marketing and development spending by 25 per cent in an effort to catch up with Google.
Revenues, however, rose 8.4 per cent to nearly seven billion dollars.
The company warned earlier this week that 2008 would be a difficult year, with up to 1,000 jobs cut. On Thursday, it announced that chief executive and former chairman Terry Semel had stepped down.
Yahoo! has a market capitalisation of about 25 billion dollars, compared with more than 300 billion dollars for Microsoft.