Rohan Lund keeps Yahoo!7 on the cutting edge of digital media developments. The lawyer turned digital chief can build a new platform and perform a swift deal — all while convincing two different shareholder groups that it’s a good idea.

His bullish approach has seen Yahoo!7’s audience swell to 8.5 million users. “He’s taken a not very terrifically performing asset and turned it into something bigger and more successful,” says Tony Faure, a digital media expert who played a role in originally launching Yahoo! in Australia and once headed up Yahoo!7’s rival, NineMSN.

But such an approach is not without its risks. The success of some of his recent moves, such as the $40 million acquisition of  deal-a-day website Spreets, remains to be seen. Some critics claim Yahoo!7 paid too much for an asset that was barely a year old at the time of purchase.

Yahoo!7’s latest venture, last month’s launch of price comparison site Moneyhound, will also provide a test, with Lund pursing an ambitious plan to rival iSelect (35% owned by NineMSN).

Lund’s No. 6 on the power list because he can get such deals and development work done. He can swiftly shift his business into evolving digital media spaces. Yahoo!7’s media assets include search, television and print content (including a lifestyle portal), mobile and messenging services.

Also because he lives and breathes Yahoo!7. There at its conception in 2005, Lund’s early work on the 50-50 partnership between Yahoo! Inc. and the Seven Network was to bring together Seven’s magazine content with the online publisher and to determine what the merged assets would mean. “It’s always been my baby,” he tells The Power Index. “It probably took a while to find its personality and some independence from its overbearing parents … But it’s not a little business anymore.”

He learned much of his digital media expertise as a lawyer. He spent 10 year practising, much of that in London, but was frustrated by simply orchestrating the deals. “I was always jealous of those people who were close to the action and were there at the execution of the idea. I felt like I was playing in the middle and missing out on the fun,” he says. Lund became the head of strategy at SingTel Optus upon returning to Australia in 2000, and made the move to Seven in 2004, originally to take responsibility for strategy and investments.

The industry was sent spinning earlier this year amid speculation, first reported in The Australian, that Lund had plans to leave Yahoo!7. That hasn’t happened yet, and Lund wouldn’t comment on any impending departure when The Power Index put this to him.

A number of Yahoo!7’s key competitors would be keen to receive the Yahoo!7 touch. His ability to take a profession punt — be it via acquisition, partnering with an organisation or building technology in-house — has seen Yahoo!7 benefit from improved targeting technology, video and mobile applications and a foray into the world of travel bookings, via its Total Travel acquisition.

*Read the full profile at The Power Index