Plenty of other sites (in my reading, Daring Fireball and Kottke) have linked to Dave Pell's advice for Yahoo! (Don't worry about search, focus on news), but they haven't quoted the best bits. Here are some of them.
When I am in my email, give me news. When I make a homepage, give me more news choices and tools. Don’t settle for first place. Crush everyone. Be the place I browse for news, search for news, share news, annotate news, IM news, SMS news, listen to and watch news, eat and drink news, shoot news into my veins, snort news off the tits of more news. News goddammit, news. And while I’m there, give me entertainment too. Be the portal. There I said it. Be so dominant as the web’s start page that you can give me the choice of search engines.
Search is, for better or worse, your me too feature. You’ve got a damn exclamation point in your logo. Let Google keep the question mark. That battle is over. Don’t bring chains to a fight if you’re better with knives. Bring extra knives. News, entertainment and information is what you’re great at. You’re old enough to know that.