In April 2002, The New York Times anointed Google "the king of search." It's impossible to argue with that today. Google, which is headquartered in Mountain View, California, conducts 48 percent of all online searches in the United States, compared with Yahoo's 28 percent. And although Google's sales growth has slowed ever so slightly, it is beyond impressive for a company that is already huge. In the most recent quarter, Google reported revenue of $3.2 billion, a 67 percent increase over the same period in the prior year.

Yet despite Google's dominance, there are dozens of companies working to bring new search tools to market. Last year alone, 68 search-oriented firms raised venture capital, according to VentureOne, and countless others have been self-funded or backed by angel investors. Yahoo and other members of the old guard are also showing signs of life.

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