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Your Survey Picks: Readers Pick Mindshare Internet Firms

One of the least understood or explored metrics in valuation of stocks is perception. So in ISR March 20 we asked our 25,000-plus global Internet-based readers to e-mail us with their first thought when asked about a general Internet topic. In short, a "Rorschach test" (the inkblot one) for Internet users to see if there's any bearing on stock values and general perceptions.

We got about 100 readers who took the time to answer the long list of questions, so this isn't a pure or clinical survey by any means, it's informal.

But guess who was mentioned the most? Yahoo!, in content, news, search, and navigation. So YHOO shares bursting by the $100 share mark doesn't surprise us in that context. Individual investors are buying what they use most.

Never mind the fact that Yahoo! trades more than 40x revenue or that fully diluted shares aren't showing up on its $4.7 billion market capitalization. Fully diluted YHOO is more than $5.5 billion market cap. Stop the helium intake.

Amazon wins in books, CDnow in music. Amazon also wins in the more general category of "commerce." Perhaps rightly so since the firm pioneered much of what Internet commerce for consumers is, or is perceived to have pioneered it, which may be the same thing.

That could bode well for other product sales, but we think Amazon and books are so closely related that somehow "Amazon Music" doesn't ring up the right melody.

Trade shows and magazines sees Mecklermedia's (producer of this report) Internet World the one mentioned. Again, the sector leader. So pioneer in one area = recognition in that area. Common sense wins sometimes.

Check out the list:

And The Survey Says:

ISDEX Survey Your Picks:
we asked-- you said--
Content = Yahoo
Software Microsoft
Books Amazon.com
Music CDnow
Banking no clear winner
Cars AutoByTel, CarPoint
Access no clear winner
Developer Microsoft
Email HotMail, Eudora
Trade show Internet World
High-speed no clear winner
Conference no clear winner
Auctions ONSALE
News Yahoo
Hardware no clear winner
Communities GeoCities
Commerce Amazon.com
Modems 3Com
Search Yahoo, Infoseek, Alta Vista
Stocks no clear winner
Magazines Internet World, PC Week
Telephony VocalTec, NetSpeak
Cable @Home
Chat no clear winner
Navigation Netscape, Yahoo
Business no clear winner

Notably, and this is something we think provides insights into where possible opportunities are for the budding entrepreneurs, some of these categories remain unclear in the mindshare space.

Access, high speed, banking, hardware, stocks, and chat all had various responses but it was one off. No one company led the pack or had enough responses to warrant being mentioned.

We also think that even in the categories mentioned that none of this is etched in stone, slow-drying clay maybe, but not stone.

For example, in 1990 if we had asked this same set of questions, odds are that CompuServe, Prodigy and AOL--all of which provided most of the above services or features inside their services--may have been the only three mentioned.

There are other factors at play here but perception seems to be important and the one most difficult to quantify.

So in another six months let's do it again and see who's where and what's who. Maybe it's not even slow-drying clay for some of these, but shifting sands.