Speaking at the ETRE conference in Monaco yesterday, Yahoo CEO Tim Koogle confirmed that his company had looked into buying Excite before it was purchased by AtHome.

"Excite reached the conclusion that they needed to be bought and yes, they approached us," Koogle said.

Yahoo gave Excite a price range of what it would be willing to spend for the rival portal, Koogle said. "AtHome, for reasons that were correct or incorrect, was more interested," Koogle said.

"Excite told me that we understood their business better than they did," Koogle added. Koogle did not address rumours that merger talks continued after the creation of ExciteAtHome.

Koogle also spoke openly about other aspects of the technology industry, saying that Netscape caused its own failure. "Calling a religious war against Microsoft was a tactical mistake," Koogle said.

Conversely, Yahoo has always been, and always will remain, platform- and delivery-agnostic, Koogle said.

Koogle said that software application products are evolving into services, with Yahoo being a prime example of a service. "There is a profound shift away from stand-alone products toward service," Koogle said.

Having begun as a company that used its software to catalogue the Web, Yahoo is now a media company that doesn't see itself as a direct competitor with Microsoft, Koogle said.