[PROFILE] Yahoo!'s Jerry Yang
- Jerry Yang
Co-founder, Chief Yahoo and Director
Jerry Yang, a Taiwanese native raised in San Jose, Calif., co-
created the Yahoo! Internet navigational guide in April 1994 with
David Filo and co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in April 1995. Yang, a leading
force in the media industry, has been instrumental in building
Yahoo! into the world's most highly trafficked Web site and one of
the Internet's most recognized brands. A member of Yahoo!'s board of
directors, Yang works closely with the company's president and CEO
to develop corporate business strategies and guide the future
direction of the company. Yang holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in
electrical engineering from Stanford University and is currently on
a leave of absence from Stanford's electrical engineering Ph.D.
The History of Yahoo! - How It All Started...
Yahoo! began as a student hobby and evolved into a global brand that
has changed the way people communicate with each other, find and
access information and purchase things. The two founders of Yahoo!,
David Filo and Jerry Yang, Ph.D. candidates in Electrical
Engineering at Stanford University, started their guide in a campus
trailer in February 1994 as a way to keep track of their personal
interests on the Internet. Before long they were spending more time
on their home-brewed lists of favorite links than on their doctoral
dissertations. Eventually, Jerry and David's lists became too long
and unwieldy, and they broke them out into categories. When the
categories became too full, they developed subcategories ... and the
core concept behind Yahoo! was born.
The Web site started out as "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web"
but eventually received a new moniker with the help of a dictionary.
The name Yahoo! is an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical
Officious Oracle," but Filo and Yang insist they selected the name
because they liked the general definition of a yahoo: "rude,
unsophisticated, uncouth." Yahoo! itself first resided on Yang's
student workstation, "Akebono," while the software was lodged on
Filo's computer, "Konishiki" - both named after legendary sumo
Jerry and David soon found they were not alone in wanting a single
place to find useful Web sites. Before long, hundreds of people were
accessing their guide from well beyond the Stanford trailer. Word
spread from friends to what quickly became a significant, loyal
audience throughout the closely-knit Internet community. Yahoo!
celebrated its first million-hit day in the fall of 1994,
translating to almost 100 thousand unique visitors.
Due to the torrent of traffic and enthusiastic reception Yahoo! was
receiving, the founders knew they had a potential business on their
hands. In March 1995, the pair incorporated the business and met
with dozens of Silicon Valley venture capitalists. They eventually
came across Sequoia Capital, the well-regarded firm whose most
successful investments included Apple Computer, Atari, Oracle and
Cisco Systems. They agreed to fund Yahoo! in April 1995 with an
initial investment of nearly $2 million.
Realizing their new company had the potential to grow quickly, Jerry
and David began to shop for a management team. They hired Tim
Koogle, a veteran of Motorola and an alumnus of the Stanford
engineering department, as chief executive officer and Jeffrey
Mallett, founder of Novell's WordPerfect consumer division, as chief
operating officer. They secured a second round of funding in Fall
1995 from investors Reuters Ltd. and Softbank. Yahoo! launched a
highly-successful IPO in April 1996 with a total of 49 employees.
Today, Yahoo! Inc. is a leading global Internet communications,
commerce and media company that offers a comprehensive branded
network of services to more than 237 million individuals each month
worldwide. As the first online navigational guide to the Web,
www.yahoo.com is the leading guide in terms of traffic, advertising,
household and business user reach. Yahoo! is the No. 1 Internet
brand globally and reaches the largest audience worldwide. The
company also provides online business and enterprise services
designed to enhance the productivity and Web presence of Yahoo!'s
clients. These services include Corporate Yahoo!, a popular
customized enterprise portal solution; audio and video streaming;
store hosting and management; and Web site tools and services. The
company's global Web network includes 25 World properties.
Headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., Yahoo! has offices in Europe,
Asia, Latin America, Australia, Canada and the United States.
MS '90, BS '90, ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING / MS '90, ELECTRICAL
The company co-founders, acknowledged industry pioneers, are
reflective. Employees scurry outside their offices, heads poke in
with questions, e-mails and stock prices pop up on the computer
screen. But they sit still within the bustle of their own enterprise
and recall their long-ago days at Stanford, their very first year in
business, the launch of their first product, and the birth of a
"We were very lucky to have been there in the early days," remembers
one of these computer industry veterans. "It was virgin territory.
There was so much creativity. Every time someone did something
novel, it was monumental."
Bill Hewlett remembering HP's garage days? Andy Bechtolsheim on the
rise of Sun Microsystems?
Nope. It's Jerry Yang and David Filo dusting off the heady
yesteryear of 1994. That's when these two PhD students started
surfing the Web in earnest and, to organize their late-night fun,
created the Yahoo! directory to help their Stanford pals locate cool
"Thousands of people were producing new Web sites every day," says
Filo, the 30-year-old who now leads software development for
Yahoo! "We were just trying to take all that stuff and organize it
to make it useful. As it became more popular, it became pretty clear
we would have to get more people involved."
One of their first additions was Srinija Srinivasan, a 26-year-old
Stanford alum with expertise in artificial intelligence and now the
resident Ontological Yahoo! (it's on her business card) in charge of
organizing the branching hierarchies that steer people to content.
Every day, millions of people begin their Web journey through one or
more of the 14 key Yahoo! Categoriessuch as Arts, Business and
Economy, Entertainment, Health, and Sciencein a so-called "context-
based" search. But even a growing army of full-time surfers can't
track the rapidly expanding universe of Web sites, which explains
why Yahoo! has integrated Alta Vista's search engine to provide an
ultra-comprehensive directory for "content-based" searches.
Today, about 120 people have joined Yang and Filo at Sunnyvale-based
Yahoo! to categorize Web sites, sell advertising, and manage the
explosive growth of the company. More than 350 companies now
advertise on Yahoo!, attracted not only by the demographics of
Yahoo! visitors, but also by the ability to create more interactive
and measurable forms of advertising for these visitors.
With more big names like Honda and Disney lining up as customers,
these are clearly good times for Yahoo! But the future, cautions the
27-year-old Yang, will depend on the company's ability to transform
itself from a one-trick Yellow Pages into a full family of media
products that capitalizes on the Yahoo! brand name.
"We were unique," says Yang, explaining the Yahoo! competitive leg
up. "We were the first in this business to build a credible,
sustainable, and likeable brand. If you believe the Internet is the
next big medium, and if you realize every medium has had a brand
associated with it-like CNN with cable-then it's conceivable that
Yahoo! will become one of those brands."
With the competition starting to look like Ted Turner, Bill Gates,
and Tom Brokaw, the two Chief Yahoos went out last year and
recruited some adult supervision of their own. Tim Koogle, a
Stanford graduate who was leading a couple of high-tech companies in
the Northwest, didn't hesitate when he got the call.
"When I first met Jerry and David," says Koogle, "what struck me
immediately was that they had filled a fundamental need and they had
done it intuitively. That's what you look for in starting a
With Koogle on board as President and CEO, Yahoo! went public in
early '96 and has been in full-tilt execution mode ever since,
spinning off media products based on geographic, demographic, and
subject-based segments. For example, Yahoo! Japan, Germany, Canada,
or San Francisco Bay Area offer users localized versions of Yahoo!
Demographic products include Yahooligans!, a Web guide for kids, and
My Yahoo!, a customizable Web guide. And Yahoo! Internet Life
magazine and Web site feed viewers subject- driven updates on topics
such as stock prices or sports news.
Yahoo!'s blast-off and this current mid-air transformation into a
more sustainable global media company has been, according to
Koogle, "an exercise in sleep deprivation." And when you"re riding a
rocket, sleep-deprived or not, you tend not to look back.
But today, the company principals seem energetic and more than
willing to reflect on the early steps at Stanford that led them to
this crazy spot.
They talk about the graduate fellowships that allowed them to choose
Stanford in the first place ("I was almost a Cal Bear!" exclaims
Yang)...the classes with John Hennessy, Jim Adams, and David
Kelley...the business seminars in entrepreneurialism...the summer
internships in Silicon Valley...and the Stanford-in-Kyoto exchange
that not only brought Yang and Filo together as friends but also
introduced them to Srinivasan.
Yes, Yahoo! is young. But this is a company born of deep roots and a
long academic history.
R O A D_W A R R I O R
BY DON GEORGE | welcome to week No. 4 of Road Warrior: Adventures of
the Business Traveler, Wanderlust's compendium of tips and tales
from people who spend the better part of their lives on the road. We
launched with worldly advice and eye-opening anecdotes from digital
visionary Esther Dyson and Web and print designer Roger Black.
This week's featured interview is with the energetically
pathbreaking co-founder and head of Yahoo!, Jerry Yang. Also take a
look at Tip of the Week, which tells you how to win a free trip to
Korea, and Informed Sources, where road warriors share their queries
and advice. Last week's letter from a female executive about sexist
service in first class sparked some spirited responses. Check out
what our readers wrote. And see if you're inspired to respond to
this week's query about how to keep hotels from charging for phone
calls that never connect. We welcome your questions, suggestions,
tips and ideas -- send them to wanderlust@.... And
make us a regular stop on your weekly itinerary!
Three years ago, Jerry Yang realized a dream, creating an Internet-
based online guide called Yahoo! One year later he co-founded Yahoo!
Inc. The rest, as they say, is history. Yahoo has become one of the
largest online navigational guide sites in the world, and has gone
on to become involved in numerous subsidiary ventures, ranging from
city guide sites to a print publication. Yang is a native of Taiwan
who was raised in San Jose, Calif. He is currently on a leave of
absence from Stanford University's Electrical Engineering Ph.D.
program and holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering
from Stanford. He goes by the title of Chief Yahoo.
Yang is almost always somewhere else these days, according to
Yahoo's public relations manager, Jennifer Hwang, and so I conducted
this interview by e-mailing questions to Hwang, who forwarded them
to Yang -- "I don't even know exactly where he is right now," she
said, "but I know he always checks his e-mail" -- who ended up
answering them somewhere between Tokyo and Singapore.
How often do you travel in a year?
It's seasonal. Usually 2-3 trips per month.
How do you deal with jet lag?
I stay really, really tired -- that way I can sleep whenever,
Do you have a favored plane or seat?
The newer 777 or airbuses. I don't care which part of the plane so
much, but I always like to sit on the aisle.
What places do you visit most often?
New York, Tokyo, L.A., Seattle.
In these places, how do you get from the airport to your hotel?
What's your favorite hotel?
I'm not picky -- except it has to have a fax and second phone line.
What's your favorite restaurant?
I like to try local dives, noodle shops -- the kinds of places
If you have an afternoon free, where do you go?
I sit in a cafe next to a park and read the paper.
What's your single favorite place or thing in your most frequented
In New York: the taxi drivers.
In Tokyo: the Tsukiji fish market for sushi.
In L.A.: the freeway signs.
Have you made any memorable cultural or business faux pas?
I always bow when I go to Japan -- but it wasn't until recently that
I was told the way I bowed was more like a woman (with hands in
front of me), than like a man (with hands on the side).
Do you have any cultural or business secrets you could pass along?
It helps a ton when you learn people's names and don't butcher them
when trying to pronounce them. (Unfortunately, I haven't mastered
How do you cope with loneliness on the road?
Frequent long-distance phone calls to check e-mail; staying in touch
with family and the business.
What's your pet travel peeve?
If you could change one travel-related thing, what would you change?
I would create shorter lines in Immigration at airports.
Do you have any essential packing tips?
Always pack for one more day than you expect.
Co-founder, Yahoo Inc.
NET WORTH $905 million
ADDRESS 3420 Central Expressway; Santa Clara, Calif.
BIO Yang became a billionaire briefly this year at the age of 29
when Yahoo closed at 174. The Stanford graduate is still many tax
brackets away from where he started in 1993, when he and pal David
Filo compiled Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web. Since then Yang
has become the face of the search engine with the human touch, and
Yahoo has become the doorway to the Internet. More people (30
million monthly) visit the Yahoo site than any other location on the
Web. The company has distinguished itself from a pack of faster--
some say better--competitors by being somehow cooler. And Yang's
likable image deserves a lot of the credit.
1998 POWER PLAY If Yang has his way, you won't just search and split
anymore. Yahoo Clubs, introduced in August, are designed to engender
loyalty in the search engine's users. Modeled on an idea that
Geocities spawned and everyone else on the Web is embracing, the
topic-specific Web communities hold real advertising potential. It's
a crowded market, but Yahoo has already proved that it doesn't mind
PLACE YOUR BETS As this company evolves to take advantage of its
remarkable reach, it will benefit from a great brand name in a
burgeoning market. And it is already profitable. With the stock's
price back in reasonable territory, analysts call Yahoo a strong buy.
David Filo and Jerry Yang
by Mark Holt & Marc Sacoolas
Yahoo (Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle) is the most
popular hierarchical index of the World Wide Web (WWW). Created in
1994 by David Filo and Jerry Yang, both Stanford University
Electrical Engineering Ph.D. candidates currently on sabbatical.
This popular index receives more than 2 million accesses a day
representing over 200,000 users.
This interview was done over two meetings in Palo Alto, California,
USA in May 1995. The first meeting was with David Filo at Caffe
Verona and the second meeting was with David and Jerry Yang at the
Blue Chalk Cafe.
BACKGROUND ON DAVID AND JERRY
Are you from the San Francisco Bay Area?
A: (David) I'm from Louisiana. I went to Tulane University in New
Orleans as an undergrad and majored in Computer Engineering. Then I
came out to California to get my Masters at Stanford in EE
Jerry grew up in San Jose and went to Stanford for his bachelors.
We're both in Stanford's Electrical Engineering program doing
electronic computer-aided design research.
So is that where you guys met?
A: Yes, we're in the same research group.
Have you known each other long?
A: For about 4 or 5 years.
How long have you been using the Web?
A: Pretty much ever since [NCSA] Mosaic came out in mid to late '93.
And before Mosaic, we used gopher a bit... and of course we used e-
mail and newsgroups before that.
BACKGROUND ON YAHOO
When did you start Yahoo, and did it start out just for personal use?
A: We started Yahoo in about April '94. It started out as a way for
us to keep track of things that we were interested in. We began with
a Mosaic hotlist, and we just added things to it. When our hotlist
was about a hundred items or so, all you could do was scroll through
it sequentially. Soon we couldn't find anything anymore because the
list was so big and there was no way to search it.
So, we created some tools that allowed us to hierarchically
categorize our links much the same way that many browsers like
Mosaic and Netscape do today. Once we did that, finding previously
visited links and adding new links became much easier. We then made
the list available via the Web to make it easier to browse and added
the search capability to make it easier to find specific entries.
Was Yahoo available to other people from the start, or was it just
between you two?
A: It was just between us at first. The tools that we developed
consisted of a few Tcl/Tk and Perl scripts that only we had access
to and knew how to use. After we made it available via the Web
interface, others had access to it but still not many people were
aware of it.
When and how did other people find out about Yahoo and start to use
A: Well, we never really listed Yahoo anywhere. It was never listed
with any of the "What's New" pages or posted to any newsgroups. A
couple of friends started to use it. It was somewhat slow to catch
on initially because we never really advertised it. It just grew by
word of mouth and by people linking to it from their home pages.
From the start were people able to add links, or were they just
watching you add your stuff?
A: Well, first of all we had very few users. We might have had a
hundred accesses a day. So there was really no demand from the users
to add their own links. Things changed over time though as our
access rates doubled every month. Through word of mouth on the Net
more and more people began using it.
So you never listed Yahoo on any of the other search web sites?
A: No. Although, after a while we automatically became listed with
some of the search engines when their spiders and robots found our
site. We also would refer our site to others who were looking for
particular types of information on the Web. Other users would do
this too in newsgroups and such.
We know how that goes. We've told lots of people about Yahoo. We
found out about it through Web surfing on other corporations' pages.
Probably others found out about it in similar ways.
A: It just kind of slowly evolved. Or maybe not so slowly.
And when did you guys realize that Yahoo was more than just your
personal hotlist? Was that after a couple of months?
A: Probably about six months after we started. Things really changed
in this respect when we added the ability for people to add their
own links. At that point it was obviously no longer just for our own
interests. We also began to add more functionality to make it more
useful to a wider range of users.
Such as searching and graphics?
A: Searching was available from the very beginning, but we did
improve things over time. The main improvements were in its ease of
use and its efficiency. They were necessary improvements as the
number of users grew and the demographics broadened. The graphics
were also tweaked over time to make the pages as efficient as
possible in terms of load time.
Are there about 39,000 links right now?
And is it still about 2 million accesses a day?
A: Right. Now it's about 2 million. We used to actually get more
that 2 million, but that was with graphics. Then we took graphics
completely out of Yahoo because we only had one DEC Alpha for a
server and it was beginning to peak out in the number of requests it
could handle. We didn't have any extra hardware, so instead of
getting more equipment, we just started taking the graphics out.
So there's probably now about 200,000 to 250,000 users...
A: Yes, actually that's something I've been meaning to check lately.
Our logs are so big that our analysis scripts require too much in
the way of machine resources to run on a nightly basis.
So the reason the graphics were removed was to lower the number of
accesses to your server, not to make Yahoo quicker for user with low
A: Right. Even when we did have images, we kept them very small ĭ
around a couple of hundred bytes.
What about the size of the menu bar?
A: Even the menu bar was only about 1K. If you have a 14.4k
connection, anything over 1K starts to become noticeable. We didn't
think that graphics were that big a deal for users. When we took the
graphics off, we did get quite a few requests saying, "Leave em'
off; it's faster that way". We also got a few saying, "Put em'
back", or "Leave them on there." Really, our graphics weren't much
to begin with.
You mean they weren't Adobe Photoshop quality?
So, Yahoo's growth rate was doubling every month?
A: Well, that was true for most of '94 until the end of the year
with the holidays, which kind of knocked the number of accesses down
a bit. We've continued to grow steadily during '95 but at a slower
rate. Last year most people didn't know about us so we continued
getting lots of new users over time. Now that has changed somewhat
and the number of new users is more in line with the overall growth
of the Web. Even that growth by itself is quite dramatic, especially
when the large online services introduce Web access to their users
like Prodigy and CompuServe have.
Did you guys notice when Prodigy started offering access to the Web?
A: A little bit, but not as much as you might expect. It took awhile
for their users to get onto the Web. In fact, many of their users
still don't use the Web yet. They don't all download the latest
software at the same time when it becomes available. So it takes
days or weeks, and even then you don't see all the activity because
of the caching done by their proxy servers.
Back when they first launched their Web access, we were still
tracking the hosts that accessed Yahoo on a daily basis. On either
the first or second day they became the most popular site to visit
Yahoo. That continues today.
Are most of your users in the United States?
A: Yes, well certainly the big ones are. It used to be just the
companies like Sun, DEC, HP, and AT&T. And now Prodigy and Netcom
bring the most users.
Do you have more individual or corporate users?
A: Well, that's hard to tell. In reality, big corporations are all
behind a firewall where their users are all routed through one host.
So it is hard to tell how many users there are in corporations.
For instance, Sun has one machine at their firewall?
YAHOO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS
Do you intend to keep Yahoo text based, or, after you set up your
business, will we start to see the graphics put back in?
A: Well, I think graphics will come back. Right now, we're equipment
bound. We have another machine on the way which we could add
graphics with. We will probably also keep the text version for the
people who want it.
Would users be able to choose whichever version they wanted?
A: Yes, but I'm not really sure the best way to do this. It's kind
of annoying having to always select a graphics or text version when
you go to someone's home page. It would be nice if you could
automatically and transparently send your preference with each
Yes, you could identify their browser when they access your page.
A: That's true, but it still doesn't solve all the problems.
What is the bottleneck for Yahoo? CPU, hard disk, net bandwidth, or
A: We had a 10 Megabit connection to the Net at Stanford, which was
connected directly to the Internet. So bandwidth was never a limit.
Disk space was never a problem either. At Stanford, it ended up
being that the machine could not handle enough requests. Limitations
on the number of TCP/IP connections a single machine could handle
was our bottleneck.
Whose HTTP server were you using?
A: We wrote our own. We were using the NCSA server in the beginning,
and, around 100,000 to 200,000 hits a day, it was pretty much just
killing the machine. So, we wrote a server that is extremely
And that's your own proprietary server?
A: Yes, for now. But, we'd rather use someone else's, like Netsite.
We just haven't had time to switch over.
So your server is really your own customized http server?
A: Right. There's not a lot of incompatibility, but, the cgi stuff
is slightly different. It's the way things are passed that's
different. And there are smaller issues like case sensitivity. Most
servers are case sensitive while our's is not. So little things like
that prevent us from switching right now. With the NCSA server the
bottleneck was that it was a CPU hog. After we wrote our own server,
it ended up being a TCP/IP limitation. Basically, current Unix
implementations of TCP/IP can only handle about 100 connections per
So your bottleneck was TCP/IP?
A: Right. What seems to happen is that there are some tables that
grow with the number of connections. Many table lookups are
performed using inefficient linear searches, instead of hashing or
something more intelligent. Once the tables reach a certain size,
the machine spends all its time searching these lists. The
fundamental problem is that the machines were never really designed
to handle this type of network traffic.
Web servers weren't around then.
A: Nope. In addition to the TCP/IP problems mentioned, there are
limitations on socket queue size in most of the Unix systems shipped
today. These limits are hit with even a small volume of Web traffic.
Luckily the problem can be solved by patching the kernel to increase
these queue sizes.
So did you rebuild your kernel to make those improvements?
A: Yes, we increased the queue limits as much as necessary to avoid
Did you create all the search software?
A: We made the search software.
Are your Web server search software and kernel independent, or do
they work together in any ways? Does your http server talk to your
A: Well, yes.
In a way that no other search engine and server that you know of
A: Yes. In fact, there is an HTTP server for the non-search stuff,
and there is a separate server that is actually modified for the
search engine. That server has some load balancing capability built
in. The search and server are tightly integrated. The kernel is
again just a patched version of what the vendors ship.
So, over at Netscape, is TCP/IP still the bottleneck?
A: Yes. What we're doing at Netscape is trying to get more machines
running at 100 percent. Right now we are running on 3 machines and
we have a 4th coming in. Netscape is loaning them to us.
So that'll mean a total of four?
Do you have your own lab at Netscape?
A: No, the machines we use sit in their server room. They have been
really good to us in terms of getting us what we need. They have a
great connection to the Net which we wouldn't have been able to
afford on our own.
Who do you interact with at Netscape?
A: The main person we've dealt with has been Bill Foss. He's been
great to work with.
Do you guys have a remote access in -- telnet, etc.?
A: Yes, we do.
Have you had any security problems?
A: Not that we know of. The only security problems are that Netscape
has their own firewalls and sometimes if they are tweaking their
stuff, it ends up interfering with our ability to get in.
So the hardware you are running is 4 Indy's?
And how much disk space do they have?
A: Not much...about a gig each.
Does Yahoo only take about 30 meg?
A: Probably closer to 50 meg now because of the directory structure.
The database stuff is probably close to 30 meg. All combined, it's a
total of about 100 meg right now.
When you are indexing, does Yahoo index in some way to optimize the
search? Is that all built in?
A: Yes, the indexing is optimized for our search. However, our
search is pretty primitive; it's essentially a grep.
Have you looked at any of the third-party solutions out there?
A: Well, we certainly need to. What we have right now is not fast
enough. We are definitely looking at third-party search engines.
Any in particular?
A: We are looking at Fulcrum, Verity, ....
Illustra? We use that for our Sun Solutions Catalog. We've gotten
some pretty good results. You can do complex searches on complex
objects. They have a lot of Web stuff.
A: Basically, we want to find what works best for us.
But you're only searching 30 megs, so it's not that big...
A: True. When you are doing a search of a relatively small text
file, it's not that big a deal.
In our catalog, we have to accommodate 15,000 records that can be
10K long .
A: Right. It's definitely a different problem. They're indexing
gigabytes of data, which eventually we'll have to do also. For right
now though, we're searching on each entry's URL, title and comment,
so there's not that much data.
How did you guys come up with the Yahoo categories? Did it just kind
of grow into what it is today, or is it based on something in
A: Unfortunately it's not based on any existing categorization
schemes. When we started the number of categories was so small it
wasn't necessary to use a well structured scheme. If you go in
science, there are the obvious categories. We're not really
specialists in any of those areas, like biology. Basically what we
have done is as categories fill to a certain point, we break them
into more specific subcategories. The process has been fairly ad-hoc
but is becoming more standardized.
So have you been able to anticipate where the categories are going
A: We're getting better at that over time. For us ideally, we would
like to have maybe 30 entries at most in any one category, so that
you don't have to wade through a lot of stuff. So we always try to
put a lot of hierarchy in. You have to be real specific about what
you're looking for. We kind of look at it as complementary. You can
browse it, and not necessarily just browse it from the top level.
But if you search for a keyword, it will also tell you where in the
hierarchy your request is located. So, you can go into the hierarchy
at that point and find related items.
There are other search web sites...have you guys worked with them at
A: Not really. But we know that their web crawlers go through our
site and index all of our pages.
Is it true that Yahoo stays away from sex-based URLs?
A: Well, we don't have pornography. We did have requests from users
saying "please don't add this stuff" to the opposite response. But
the real reason that we actually took pornography out was because
any time we listed a site that had it, the next day - probably
within a couple of hours of listing it - it would be down.
Too many people going there?
Is that about the only thing that you don't put in Yahoo and do you
review links before you add them?
A: We pretty much add anything. The reason we stopped adding those
pornographic ones is because the sites would often be down and then
our links would always be dead. It would take awhile, and then users
would complain to us. We didn't really have time to sit there and
look at the links every day and see if they were still available.
Plus just the fact that those sites, in order for them to actually
exist, can't really be publicized in a public place like Yahoo.
A: So of course when Yahoo wasn't yet well known, this was fine. But
when we became a popular...
Gotta be underground...
A: Yes, it's gotta be underground to even exist. With that exception
ĭ we pretty much add anything that people request, provided that
there is some value to the content there. For example, there was one
guy who wanted us to place his hotel ad in several hundred
categories. He's in a town with many conventions, and for every
convention that comes through the town, he has a page for it that
advertises his hotel. There's really no information at all about the
conferences themselves. So this is an example of something that we
declined to add.
How many companies do you think are actually making money from being
listed on Yahoo? This seems like pretty good Web merchandising. Are
there companies that are making money off of Yahoo...by having a
listing, by being found?
A: We certainly get lots of letters from people saying that before
they were listed with us, they didn't get any requests, and after
they got listed with us, they started getting more requests. And so,
it certainly bumps up the visibility of certain companies. But it's
hard to say how much revenue is actually being generated.
We heard that you guys were spending 15 to 20 hours a week updating
URLs while you were in school, and that now it's probably even more
time. Is this true, and how did you manage all the updating while
you were in school?
A: Well, we didn't have classes; we were working on our thesis. And
our advisor is out of the country on sabbatical.
Big surprise when he gets back and sees what you guys have done...
A: He's been very supportive of what we've done. Now we're both on
leave and are devoting full time to the project.
How long will you be on leave from Stanford?
A: Well, we just took a leave starting this last quarter in April.
Officially, it's two quarters that we'll be off. It kind of depends
on how things go.
So your interest has shifted to the Web from EE?
A: Yes. This whole Internet thing is very intriguing. Plus, we're
both more practical than theoretical, so the Internet is a better
fit in that regard too. It's just a shame we couldn't combine the
two so that we could have finished school.
Were you guys at Internet World?
(Marc) At the show, I was approached by a guy who said "Where are
the Yahoo guys?" I didn't have the Yahoo information center shirt on
or anything. Your names have gotten incredible recognition. How are
you going to carry that?
A: One thing we have going for us right now is our name. We have
gotten a lot of good press. It's obviously a good thing and we need
to take advantage of that.
You mentioned in one interview that you are from the old school, the
Internet. How do you view The Microsoft Network, how do you feel
A: From our view it seems that they'll just be bringing a lot more
users to the Net. A larger audience for those providing services to
So it's a good thing?
A: We hope so. Especially for someone like us, that is, providing
directory services...their users will create a larger demand. Of
course Microsoft could compete with us if they decided to build
Internet directories themselves.
That's true. Is it just you and Jerry that do all the adding and
processing of everything?
A: Right now, it is. We're starting to look for other people to help
out with that.
Do you guys have a nightly backup for your system?
Do you guys have backup servers in case those ones go down?
A: No. It's not, right now, a very reliable system. In fact, they do
crash once in a while.
So on the Internet, it works out well?
A: The Net as a whole is not that reliable, so our blips in service
don't cause major problems. However, we are certainly working on
improving our own reliability as well as those sites that we depend
Do you guys have any mirror systems anywhere else in the U.S. or
A: Not yet, but we are looking into those issues.
But not as a part of the business?
A: Well we've gotten a lot of requests in the past. People wanting
to put mirrors up. And one of the reasons we haven't done that to
date is because it can be a real headache, especially for material
that changes every day. It's not a trivial thing to do. And once
it's out there, there are a lot of headaches in order to change it
later. So we want to be careful on how we do that, and make sure
that it's something that's permanent.
After you find some engineering support in the various places?
Especially with only the two of you right now?
A: We don't want to end up in a situation where there are different
Yahoo versions out there. Where some mirror machines don't have the
same data, that type of thing.
There's a lot of synchronization to figure out?
A: Yes, some synchronization is certainly required. Right now we're
looking at mirroring, mainly for international sites because their
links are so slow. Some links are slow in the U.S., but I think
within the U.S, there's really not a need to mirror. Basically we're
on the Internet backbone, so it doesn't really matter if you're out
here or back east.
When you do mirroring, are you going to franchise Yahoo, like a
A: We don't know. It depends a lot on how we decide to deal with
international sites. There are interesting issues that come up
dealing with localization. Right now, what we have is very U.S.-
Like Sun has Sun SITEs throughout the world.
Maybe teaming up with something like that? I mean, they have
international sites, and something like that would probably benefit
Did you guys have a lot of requests asking for things to be
translated, or did English seem to be pretty much the standard?
A: English is pretty much the standard. The main request for mirror
sites is performance. People have talked about doing German and
Japanese translations, so there's interest in that. But the main
concern is...well, countries like Australia, who end up paying for
their long distance connection, which can get very expensive.
It would be worth it to set up a mirror site in Australia, and they
could probably fund it easily with what they save by having it local.
A: Yes, one of the things we need to do is to find a long-term
partner. Our presence there needs to be a permanent one so we need
to find a company that is going to be around for a while.
So you're saying it's the bigger guys, as big as they are with the
Internet right now?
YAHOO AS A BUSINESS TODAY
Are you guys venture capital funded?
Was it difficult to get venture capital or did they come to you?
A: Most of them came to us because we had mentioned to several
people that we were looking for money. It's quite interesting
because many venutre capital funded firms haven't yet supported
Internet companies. So we went through pretty much the whole process
without having to fill out a business plan. They realized, too, that
things change quickly on the Internet.
Are you happy with the amount of money that you have?
A: For now, yes. But we quickly realized that you need a lot of
money. Especially when you see what T3 line costs each month.
How much of your T3 line do you actually use?
A: Right now, without graphics, we're only about 3 to 4 T1's and
probably about 4 or 5 megabits per second out of a 45 megabit
connection of T3's.
So you have a lot of room to grow?
A: Somewhat. But, bandwidth is still an issue and lines are not
Have you thought of turning Yahoo into a hub?
A: That's an option. One option is to move and get our own T3.
Another option is to buy services from one of the new startups that
have multiple T3's and are in business to provide such services for
a fee to other companies. It doesn't make sense to have every
company running T3's. In one central place they have a lot of
bandwidth coming in and sorting the documents. There's no cost
benefit in doing this, but the problem is that a remote site is hard
to maintain. In this regard, Stanford had a really nice testing
machine to test things out. It's harder now.
So you are currently not paying for any of the access?
A: No. It's a mutually positive relationship with Netscape.
And Netscape is promoting the community.
A: One of the main advantages is that Netscape views using directory
services as being very important. Without these services, the
Internet becomes unattractive to users. Users will then all go to
AOL or Compuserve. So they are very interested in seeing independent
directory services continue to flourish, and they are helping us to
make sure that this does happen. We both have a really good
relationship with each other.
So your overhead is pretty low right now.
A: Yes. But, we need to start generating some reasonable revenue. We
could have done that already, and, one of the reasons that we didn't
do that is because we wanted to do it right. It's important that we
didn't want to mess up on this. Netscape gave us some breathing room
to get going and to organize ourselves.
Did Stanford work with you pretty well?
A: Yes, although it was never an official project. They let us do
whatever we wanted to do. We were just using our own workstations.
They had to see an increase in net usage.
A: They saw it, but it wasn't really significant in the beginning.
Towards the end, Yahoo started picking up a fairly significant
portion of the Internet. But, no one ever complained that it slowed
things down. Stanford was very supportive, and now we are being
supported by Netscape.
GROWING YAHOO AS A BUSINESS
Have you guys been in the industry before?
Ever run a bulletin board?
Do you have mentors for business advice?
A: Well, we're starting to bring in some advisors right now. Up to
date, we handled it all ourselves, and we pretty much split up the
Do you both have to agree before you move ahead on projects?
A: Yes. We're now at the point of bringing in business people.
Things are moving so fast. We know that we're currently in a
position where there isn't really any competition, and we can't
afford to make any mistakes. We both want to get lined up correctly.
Do you ever wonder if you can keep control as the company grows?
A: Any time you have investors, there's always the possibility of
loss of control. Right now, we're in a good enough position because
we have day-to-day, hands-on control. But it's not going to stay
that way. So it's up to us to bring in the right people to manage
and grow the company.
Are there any other investors besides the venture capitalist?
A: Hopefully we won't need money in the short term. If things go
really well, we might need more money to get some other things
going. And that's when we might think about becoming incorporated.
We did have interest from some corporations who wanted to invest in
us. In fact, a couple of months ago, we had a few options. One was
to go off and fund it ourselves. Another option was to sell to
either a large company or an existing service provider. We had
offers to do that. We could have done it, but we didn't want to work
for a big company. We also thought that our services would be better
if Yahoo remained an independent entity and was not tied to a
Is Yahoo incorporated?
A: We're not a corporation; There are four positions on the board of
directors, and we fill two of them.
Are you guys equal partners?
A: Yes. On our business cards, we are both Chief Yahoos.
Will you be hiring a president?
A: We'll definitely bring in a president and other upper management.
How many people are you looking to hire?
A: Between 4 and 5 people on the maintenance and technical side.
We're also looking for some people on the business side and in
sales. First thought is to hire library science people who have a
background in libraries, cataloging and stuff - the official library
How many people overall?
A: A year from now, we should have between 10-15 people.
Will there be major changes in Yahoo now that it's a company rather
than just a couple of guys from Stanford?
A: Yes, hopefully for the better. The service will improve. - better
interface, better features. Over the year, it's been growing
constantly. I don't think we've taken anything off of Yahoo. We
haven't really had the resources to do that. So there are all of
these features that we've thought about wanting to add - things that
the users requested, and we haven't been able to do them. So now
that we have the resources, and we are starting to look at Yahoo
differently. Hopefully, the users will see that it will be alot
easier to use - it will be more indepth.
Did your accesses go up when you became www.yahoo.com?
A: We thought they might go down. We were just two guys who did it
in their spare time at Stanford. There's no way you couldn't like
Yahoo. Now, when we became a .com, it looks like we are doing it for
commercial reasons. So we thought maybe the daily accesses would go
down, but it just stayed about the same. Everybody knows when you
change. When we get to the point where we actually start putting the
advertising in, I think we will start turning people off.
Where do you want Yahoo to go in the next year? In the next 5 years?
A: Five years is ridiculous to even think about. I mean, in a year
who knows what's going to happen on the Internet.
Are you going to be a full company in six months?
A: We would like to remain small. We're not interested in becoming a
big company. We want to grow it well and, in order to get there, we
have to build the whole infrastructure. We basically spent the last
year on it with no pay. One of our main motivations today is to see
if we can do it. To be able to look back at the last year of our
lives and like what we have accomplished. That's some of the
(Marc) Pays off when you see it grow. Do you get excited when you
think about the fact that at any given moment - even when you're in
bed at 3 o'clock in the morning - that there's a thousand people
hitting your site?
A: No. Actually the bad thing is that when a thousand people hit our
site, we think about whether it will shut off, and we are sleeping.
FUTURE YAHOO BUSINESS MODEL
Are you basically going to try to stay away from charging the user?
A: We definitely don't want to charge the user. Generally, everyone
is in agreement that Yahoo needs to be free. For additional
services, this model may change. But most services we would like to
keep free, unless we get to a point where the resources really
require support that is so significant that there's no way you can
provide them without charging the user.
What about charging on the back end?
A: We could talk about charging the lister - especially for
commercial listings. We would probably still want to give a basic
listing for free to everyone. Maybe charge for additional press
listings - logos or things like that.
Can you elaborate on the business model?
A: We'd follow a yellow page model. Everyone gets one free listing,
but additional listings would be extra. And more listings are better
than only one listing. You pay for the increased visibility of a
longer description or a logo. We could also start doing more
advertising ideas, like a sports page could be sponsored by Nike.
Like the Prodigy model, or the Netscape model which has ads?
A: Yes, but we'd do it a little differently. Say for instance that
you're interested in camping. So you go through the camping stuff
and maybe the page is sponsored by Northface or by REI. Users would
be more interested having ads specifically tied to the entries.
Listers would also probably be more willing to pay.
A: The other model we're looking into is to charge the providers. We
want to get into that. Providers like AOL have some need for
directory services for users.
Do you think service providers would be pretty interested in that?
A: Yes, we got some interest from them. Another idea would be to
specialize. For example, have a family-oriented version that has a
more selective, specialized focus, such as having a business
They could even do on-demand versions. For example, in any
organization with many users. you could focus on versions for
specific user groups. People would probably like these customized
Will you license Yahoo to other companies?
A: If our affiliation with a particular company precludes our
talking with other companies, then we need to revisit our current
DAVID AND JERRY
Are you guys best friends?
A: Yes, we're good friends.
A: Yes. We're in the same research group. We share an office.
So was it all worth it? Is it a learning experience?
A: Yes, it's fun. Hopefully the money that we have will sustain us
until we are self sufficient. We actually could have been profitable
Is money ever an issue? Do you consider yourself to be a struggling
A: Yes. We got some money from Sequoia, but we're not getting rich.
A year ago, you also had an option to get $40,000 plus in ads...
A: Well, up until recently we were living on RA [Stanford Resident
Assistant] shifts which is barely enough to get by.
A: Actually, we've been very lucky in that we've had a lot of
support from several sources. There has been no lack of information
resources because a lot of what we've done has been driven by the
users. Their suggestions are helping us, pushing us, voluntarily
giving us good information. For us, the only bad thing is that we
don't have the time and, sometimes the resources, to make Yahoo
better. It's really hard to complain about anything that wasn't
really under our control. We should have been getting more resources
along the way, but we didn't anticipate the explosive popularity of
Yahoo. Six months ago, things changed. We knew that things were
going in this direction, and we're hoping that Yahoo will succeed.
You kind of want to pinch yourself to see if this is really
A: Yes. Right now, the number of users in the lab is pretty small
compared to what we think we're going to need short-term. That's one
of the big frustrations. The other thing is we've just been kind of
keeping up. We do what we've always been doing. I'm doing the Xfile
mode catalog, which is essentially an unsolved problem. A lot of
people look at us and think we are crazy or stupid, asking us why we
are spending so much time cataloging when we should really be in a
lab. We also get lots of advice on whether we are doing things the
right way, using the right system, using a GUI, and things like that.
You did make up your own classification scheme.
A: Right. Everything basically makes some sense. Looking at all the
tools that we use, we really don't have the time or manpower to step
back and think if this is the right way to do it. We're just trying
to keep up with the demand of the users. Hopefully, we're not going
down the wrong path.
Do people think it's good?
A: There's a need for this type of service out there. But is it just
a short term thing until something better comes along? Who knows.
For now, without the day-to-day cataloging that we do, Yahoo
wouldn't stay in demand. So experimenting in a lab isn't the answer
Do you have any time to surf the Web?
A: Not for pleasure, But, we surf enough just by checking out the
You check them out as you add them?
A: Yes. We definitely have to verify the category. The best case is
where somebody does it for us - when they add it, they cross-link
directly. So we check them out and we get to see what's out there.
But, right now, we're sometimes unable to keep up with the demand of
adding sites. Between the email that we get and the requests to be
added, we definitely need more people on board.
So has Yahoo taken away your social life?
A: Pretty much, yes.
What do you guys do for fun?
A: Lately, we haven't done anything. Last year we had the best snow
since I've been out here, so we did some skiing.
We work with computers all day and then we go home and we have
computers there and we usually work with them until the early
A: I never actually owned a computer. But the problem is I never go
So you're always at the lab?
A: I'm either there or in meetings somewhere. About a month ago, we
took off to play some golf.
Are you surprised by your new found fame - when you see your name in
A: Yes. But, it's not anything different than what I used to do. So,
I don't see it as fame.
Do you get more emails?
A: A little bit. When a story appears, you get more phone calls.
Are you recognized on the Stanford campus?
A: We don't have much public visibility on campus. The Stanford
daily paper hasn't done a story about us.
What are your favorite Web sites? Like Mark and I like the Fed Ex
packing page where you can track your packages.
A: That's cool. Any time I Fed Ex anything, I use it. I also like
some of the world news and sports pages.
What do you think about the newspapers that are charging access fees?
A: Yes. I get the San Jose Mercury News, but I never really read it,
so it seems reasonable to pay for the net version. It would be nice
if it was free. It's going to be interesting to see what happens to
information in general on the Internet. Now information is basically
free in most places. You just pay for the distribution of it. I
think it will be interesting when it gets to the point where they
charge a penny for each clip.
There are some sites that are already charging.
A: Yes, you set up an account, type in your password, all kinds of
stuff. When you think about all the accounts that are out there -
just think about a thousand newspapers. You don't want to open a
thousand accounts. A long as the accounts are really cheap and they
charge only for actual usage...
OTHER INTERNET PLAYERS
Who do you view as the big [corporate] players in today's Internet
A: Well, you need the hardware vendors to get the Internet going. So
you need the Sun's, the Cisco's, and the right infrastructure.
Which companies do you think are proactive in making the Internet a
value-add or in keeping it free?
A: I don't think things need to be free. If you are talking about
the network, the only way that it's going to be long-lasting is to
make it a real commercial service. And, in order to do that, things
are going to have to become more commercialized and relatively free
of government funding or distortions by private companies,
institutions, whatever. Certainly the big companies, like Sun, are
providing services to the net that determine the business model,
which is the needed part. As far as growing the net, Sun is one of
the main players, like with the World Cup and that type of thing. I
don't know if you guys made money or did it as public service.
It started as a hobby. Jerry Yang wanted an efficient and elegant
way to find stuff on an obscure part of the Internet, the World Wide
Web. So, in early 1994, he and fellow Stanford grad student David
Filo took every Web site they'd ever visited, and categorized them.
Then, they took the dozens of categories and lumped them into a few
bigger categories. A quick trip to the dictionary (they wanted the
site to begin with YA, an acronym for Yet Another that is often used
in the names of software tools), a self-mocking exclamation point at
the end, and Yahoo! was born.
Neither of them guessed that their guide would someday become the
most popular, valuable, and widely imitated brand in a multibillion-
How they got there
Maybe it was the zany name. Or maybe just the outright genius of a
hand-picked directory, competing against irrelevant and random
search results on other sites. Whatever the reason, early Net heads
loved it, and by the end of 1994, nearly 100,000 separate visitors
were clicking to Yahoo every day.
That's when Yang and Filo made several crucial decisions. First of
all, they noticed HotWired's launch as the first ad-supported site
in October 1994 and saw the mass media's growing obsession with the
Web. Realizing that they could turn Yahoo into a viable business,
they put grad school on hold, refused buyout offers, and hunted for
venture capital. When Yahoo relaunched as an ad-supported site in
August 1995, their hobby was suddenly bringing in money.
Even more importantly, Yang realized that Yahoo could be much more
than a stopping point on the way to millions of other sites. He
pursued meetings with media companies like Reuters and Ziff-Davis,
and began referring to Yahoo as a full-fledged media brand, akin to
any major magazine or TV network.
Portal wars and ad dollars
Soon, the site included an up-to-the-minute newsfeed, weather
reports, stock quotes, and computer reviews. Readers loved each new
addition, spending more and more time at yahoo.com before clicking
away. Additions kept coming: free email, personalization, Java-based
games, interactive maps, an email lookup service, and more. The idea
of the all-in-one Web portal was born, and imitators soon cropped up
like mushrooms after a rainy winter.
Yahoo was also a leader in clever business practices, such as
targeted advertising: as users searched for their personal
interests, the company displayed ads based on those interests. As a
result, Yahoo was able to charge high ad rates and was one of the
first Net companies to show a profit.
Competition will get fiercer
It's hard to say if Yahoo will remain on top. Many of its toughest
competitors have deeper pockets--Microsoft (MSN.com), AOL, AT&T
(@Home/Excite), Disney (Infoseek/Go Network), and General Electric's
NBC (Snap), for example--and other directories are frantically
pursuing mergers and content-sharing agreements to stay viable.
Yahoo's January acquisition of Geocities increased its
overall "reach" in the Web space, but Geocities' "Web community"
model has not yet turned a profit, and some analysts question the
wisdom of the purchase.
But regardless of its place in the rankings, Jerry and Dave's "Yet
Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle" has been overwhelmingly
influential in creating today's Web landscape, both in terms of the
way it looks and the way it makes money...or dies trying.
No. 8: Jerry Yang
ahoo! is an utterance that might well escape the lips of a 32-year-
old with a $3 billion net worth based on a 10% stake in a company
enjoying a $30 billion market cap. Especially if he racked it up in
under four years flat. Neither Bill Gates nor Marc Andreeson came
close to matching that kind of breakneck return on sweat equity.
In mid-1995 Jerry Yang was a Stanford engineering grad student
with a winning squinty-eyed grin who had landed his first million in
venture capital. Today he's the co-parent and co-Chief Yahoo of a
webglomerate that claims the daily attention of 25 million pairs of
eyeballs -- and that manic grin hasn't dimmed a watt. There's still
a fairy tale quality to the events that began in the spring of 1994
when Yang put up a web page containing his name in Chinese
characters, his golf scores and a list of his favorite internet
sites. Six months later he and David Filo hit on the idea of Yahoo!,
a name suggested by a slur tossed at them by Filo's dad. The yahoos
turned it into an acronym by reverse-engineering the mock-
sonorous "Yet Another Highly Officious Oracle." Whatever, it worked.
By early 1995 the site was bookmarked on every browser in
Masayoshi Son, head of Japan's Softbank, had the prescience in
1995 to take a 20% stake in Yahoo! A few months later when Yahoo!
held its IPO, Son snapped up another 17.02%, putting him in
effective control. He then installed a professional management team
to fill the CEO, COO and CFO spots. By then the stakes of Yang and
Filo had been cut to about 12% apiece, but Son kept them on as
Yahoo!'s heart and soul under the title of Chief Yahoos. Their job
is to ooze irreverent inspiration. Of the duo Yang is the more
outgoing and better suited to carrying an empty briefcase while
snapping orders into cellphones. Filo plays a quieter behind-the-
scenes role. Together they've guided Yahoo! into foreign-language
extensions, local guides, print magazines and e-commerce.
Not content with 95 million pageviews a day, Yahoo! recently
acquired GeoCities, a top online community that offers free email
and homepages. That keeps Yahoo! number one portal with about 10
million more pairs of eyeballs than the 22 million AOL grabs after
adding Netscape's 8 million to its own 16 million dialup accounts
(the total is reduced by overlapping visitors). Yahoo!'s taking no
chances. It recently launched ad-subsidized dialup accounts for
$14.95 a month.
Yahoo!'s market cap is off the $38 billion peak reached last
fall. For the moment, though, it enjoys a clear leg up over rivals
in both visitor count and ad sales, actually having turned a $25
million profits on 1998 revenues of $204 million. Ad revenues should
more than double in 1999. But in the hyper-charged, hyper-
ventilating cyber-universe, there are no guarantees. Just ask Marc
Andreeson. Yahoo!'s top-dog status is threatened by the marriage of
rivals to giant deep-pocketed suitors eager to settle Cyberia. The
bone-crunching shakeout to come in the next two years will leave
half eating permafrost.
Chih-Yuan Yang was born in Taiwan in 1967. His father died when
he was 2. As he was about to enter his teen years, Yang immigrated
with his grandmother, mother and younger brother and settled in San
Jose. After he and fellow electrical engineering student Filo hit on
the idea of a web directory, they hacked code to sort hyperlinks
into hierarchies, giving birth to "Jerry and David's Guide to the
World Wide Web". The rest is web legend.
Jerry Yang, Co-founder
By Steven Ferry | Special
to Government Technology
Photography by Ed Caldwell
Recognized worldwide as an industry visionary and Internet
entrepreneur, Jerry Yang, who co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in April 1995,
has been instrumental in building it into one of the most recognized
brands associated with the Internet, and a leading force in the new
media industry. Yahoo was not only the first online navigational
guide to the Web, but has the most traffic, advertising and
household reach. Yang took time from his duties as "Chief Yahoo" to
discuss the nurturing of the entrepreneurial spirit within large
GT: How does the new commercial environment differ from the one we
grew up with?
YANG: We are seeing an increase in the pace of the innovation. Many
new businesses have a technology component now, so the way they are
financed, provide their services and are regulated has changed,
compared to the last 30 or 40 years.
GT: How do you see this change affecting society and the way we live
our lives over the next decade?
YANG: When you consider the PC revolution over the last 20 years and
the ability to network with telecommunications, it becomes clear
that this change has taken a very steep curve toward adoption by the
average consumer. The mass audience is becoming more technology-
savvy and putting that to use. One of the key trends as we move into
the next decade, therefore, is that companies will make the
technology more useful, easier to use, more effective and a greater
part of people's lives. Any company that can succeed in making such
a mass-audience product will have a great chance of success. We've
also seen the shift to an information- and service-based economy:
Over the last six years, Silicon Valley has changed toward an
Internet-services-based industry -- a very interesting way of
growing the economy and altering the workforce.
The average worker here in the valley has changed in this time from
a semiconductor-industry worker to an information-industry worker.
This transformation has brought up the issue of how to procure
qualified workers, something worth considering in this article. The
new breed tends to be much higher educated, more<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)