As previously reported, Yahoo was expected to formally unveil the service today--and reveal several corporate partners that will use it--after outlining plans for the offering in a private meeting with Wall Street analysts last month.
The new service, Corporate Yahoo, will allow business customers to create customized versions of Yahoo's Web site that provide corporate information such as human resource postings as well as email, stock quotes and news.
Yahoo joins several major technology providers--including Oracle, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft--that have launched similar products in the lucrative Web portal market.
Sales of corporate intranet portal products will soar sixfold during the next three years, rising from $200 million this year to $1.2 billion in 2003, Aberdeen Group analyst Madan Sheina told Bloomberg.
"Over time, this can be a significant business," said John Willcutts, vice president of Yahoo Enterprise Services, which developed the product.
Yahoo generates most of its revenues through advertising and commissions on e-commerce sales. But it's using a new model to charge for Corporate Yahoo. Customers will pay an up-front fee for software, set up and optional packages that connect the portals to about 30 software packages from companies including Microsoft, Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP.
Yahoo will also charge an annual user fee for access to the content and applications it generally offers free to consumers, Willcutts said. He declined to say what the average charge would be.
Yahoo's corporate portal, which was co-developed by Tibco Software, will allow access to Web content, as well as content from a company's intranet, core database or other business applications. Tibco makes software that helps applications communicate with each other.
Other partners involved in the new service include HP, which will resell the service; search technology company Inktomi; and real-time conferencing company WebEx.
Yahoo said Alcatel, Inktomi, Network Appliance, Andersen Consulting and the state of North Carolina have signed agreements to use Corporate Yahoo.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.