The new product, dubbed Yahoo Finance MarketTracker, will stream real-time quotes and financial news on a piece of software that consumers download. When launched, the service will give up-to-the-minute stock data that can be reached throughout areas on Yahoo. Subscribers will be able to create stock alerts that can be used on certain non-PC devices such as handheld computers, cell phones and pagers.
"We know there's this segment out there that doesn't trade super-often but is very active in monitoring portfolios and monitoring the markets," said Tim Sheehan, director of production for Yahoo Finance.
Sheehan declined to provide any projections on how many accounts the company expects to create.
Yahoo Finance MarketTracker is the latest "premium service" launched by the company. Executives have stated their desire to offer more fee-based services as a way to grow revenue that is not dependent on advertising.
Yahoo's exposure to the online ad slowdown has hurt the company considerably. In March, it drastically reduced its revenue expectations for the first quarter of 2001, largely because of the ad slowdown. At the same time, Chief Executive Tim Koogle announced he would step aside but remain as chairman once a new CEO is found.
The company will report first-quarter earnings April 11 after market close.
Finding new revenue that is not advertising related will not be easy. Yahoo has gained enormous popularity among Web users because it offers free information and services, such as news, stock quotes and e-mail. But as more Internet companies suffer from a slowdown in advertising stemming from dot-com failures and the hesitation of traditional advertisers, most are under pressure to compensate these losses with steady revenue streams based on subscriptions or one-time fees.
"Yahoo has made claims for some time that non-ad services would be an important leg of its growth going forward, and this seems to be a clear step in that direction," said Derek Brown, an equity analyst at WR Hambrecht.
Many areas on Yahoo already offer paid premium services, including auctions, careers, its GeoCities home page builder, shopping, yellow pages and photos. Yahoo Finance already offers a bill-paying service for $4.95 a month and a tax-filing service for $19.95 per use or $99.95 if an H&R Block professional assists.
Other Internet companies have also turned to subscriptions to add to their revenue lines. Last August, streaming media company RealNetworks unveiled GoldPass, a service that offers software and exclusive content for $9.95 a month. The company last week announced a deal to stream games for Major League Baseball, which will be included in GoldPass.
In addition, RealNetworks, along with major record labels Warner Music Group, BMG Entertainment and EMI Recorded Music, said Monday that it will create a new company called MusicNet that offers online music to subscribers. MusicNet will license its service to third parties and offer songs from the labels' catalogs.