Dave Winer points to my post about Portals 2.0 and questions if there are really only 3 powerful Internet companies:

"Richard MacManus talks about The Big 3, and there is a trend to think about three companies -- Google, Microsoft and Yahoo -- as the leaders in online. But I don't think that really works, because well, there are three more that are probably just as powerful as the others, but in different ways."

In the comments it emerges that Dave was referring to Amazon, eBay and Apple. Personally I think a good case could be made for eBay, but I don't see Amazon or Apple as being in the same league.

Dave McClure, also in the comments of Dave's post, came up with a ranking system:

"Tier 1: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Tier 2: eBay, Amazon, Apple Tier 3: AOL, IAC/Ask, NewsCorp/MySpace

actually, i'd say AOL is Tier 2.5, but will either partner/merge with a Tier 1 within another 3-6 months."

That'll get the anti-A-List crowd squarking! But when it comes down to it, I agree with Dave McClure's tier ranking.

One main caveat is that the ranking of Internet companies is very much dependent on the era we're in - and is subject to rapid change. For example, I'm currently reading a book called 'There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere: The AOL Time Warner Debacle and the Quest for a Digital Future', by Kara Swisher. The book is based in the era when AOL was Tier 1 and maybe even the numero uno Internet company. One story from that era was that AOL tried to buy Yahoo! for $2 million in around 1995 - but was rebuffed. How times change!