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Yahoo! Inc.

Yahoo! Inc.

701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, California 94089
U.S.A.

Telephone: (408) 349-3300
Fax: (408) 349-3301
Web site: http://www.yahoo.com


Public Company
Incorporated:
1995
Employees: 5,500
Sales: $3.5 billion (2004)
Stock Exchanges: NASDAQ
Ticker Symbol: YHOO
SICs: 518111 Internet Service Providers; 518112 Web Search Portals; 516110 Internet Publishing and Broadcasting; 518210 Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services


Yahoo! Inc. is one of the world's leading Internet media companies. Using its seemingly neverending compilation of links to other Web sites, as well as its extensive searchable database, the company helps Internet users navigate the World Wide Web. Anyone can access the Yahoo! Web site for free because it is funded not by subscriptions but by the advertisers who pay to promote products and services there. Yahoo! leads its competitors in the amount of user traffic at its site, with over
2.4 billion page views viewed through its 25 international sites in 13 languages each day. The company also offers Internet users other peripheral services, such as free e-mail accounts (Yahoo! Mail), online chat areas (Yahoo! Chat), and news tailored to each user's demographic or geographic area (Yahoo! News). The company's principal shareholders are the FMR Corporation with 12.5 percent of the stock, cofounder David Filo with 7.9 percent, cofounder Jerry Yang (6.7 percent), and CEO Terry S. Semel (1.2 percent). Yahoo! stock sold at around $35 a share during 2004.


Humble Beginnings

Yahoo! Inc. got its start in 1994 as the hobby of two Stanford University students who were writing their doctoral dissertations. Jerry Yang and David Filo, both of whom were candidates in Stanford's electrical engineering doctoral program, spent much of their free time surfing the World Wide Web and cataloging their favorite Web sites. In doing so, they created a Web site of their own that linked Internet users to Yang's and Filo's favorite places in cyberspace. At that time, their site was called "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web."

As their Web site grew, both in size and in the number of links from which it was composed, the number of people who used the site also increased dramatically. Thus, Yang and Filo began spending more and more time on their new hobby, gradually converting the homemade list into a customized database that users could search to locate Web sites related to specific interests. The database itself was originally located on Yang's Stanford student computer workstation, named "akebono," while the search engine was located on Filo's computer, "konishiki" (the two computers were named after legendary Hawaiian sumo wrestlers).


As for the transformation of the database's name from "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web" to "Yahoo!," the two men became bored with the original tag and set about to change it late one night while bumming around in their trailer on the Stanford campus. Looking to mimic the phrase/acronym "Yet Another Compiler Compiler" (YACC), a favorite among Unix aficionados, Yang and Filo came up with "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle" (YAHOO). Browsing through the online edition of Webster's dictionary around midnight, they decided that the general definition of a yahoorude and uncouthwas fitting. Yang was known for his foul language, and Filo was described as being blunt. The two considered themselves to be a couple of major yahoos, and thus the name which would soon become a household brand was born.


It was not long before the Yahoo! database became too large to remain on the Stanford University computer system. In early 1995, Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape Communications, invited Yang and Filo to move Yahoo! to the larger computer system housed at Netscape. Stanford benefited greatly from this move due to the fact that its computer system finally returned to normal after having been inundated by Yahoo!'s activity.

Expansion in 1995

Commercialization soon followed. Yang and Filo began selling advertisement space on their site in order to fund further growth. The duo soon realized that it was going to be too difficult to manage both the creative and the administrative aspects of the Yahoo! enterprise. They recruited Tim Koogle, also a former Stanford student, to come aboard as CEO. Prior to his arrival at Yahoo!, Koogle had put himself through engineering school by rebuilding engines and restoring cars and had then gone on to work at Motorola and InterMec Corporation.


One of Koogle's first moves as the company's CEO was to bring in Jeff Mallett as COO. Mallett was a former member of the Canadian men's national soccer team who, at age 22, began running the sales, marketing, and business development aspects of his parents' telecommunications company, Island Pacific Telephone, in Vancouver. Prior to joining the Yahoo! gang, he also gained experience in marketing at Reference Software and WordPerfect and acted as vice-president and general manager of Novell Inc.'s consumer division. Together, Koogle and Mallett began transforming Yahoo! from a homegrown list of interesting Web sites into the most popular stop along the information highway.


Koogle and Mallett soon became known as "the parents" at Yahoo!'s corporate headquarters. While Yang and Filo would arrive at work wearing T-shirts and sneakers, Koogle and Mallett preferred Italian silk ties. Many viewed the foursome's working relationship as that of kids with ideas and the adults that they found to put these ideas into practice. In the August 6, 1998, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, analyst Andrea Williams of Volpe Brown Whelan & Co. referred to Koogle and Mallett as "Yahoo's equivalent of the Wizard of Oz, pulling the strings from behind the scenes. . . . Americans are captivated by the idea of two college kids like Yang and Filo starting an incredible service. But [Mallett] and [Koogle] have turned it into a business that advertisers and investors understand and respect."

The majority of Yahoo!'s revenue came through banner advertising deals. In basic terms, Yahoo! sold space on its Web pages to companies wishing to promote their products to the demographic that frequented the Yahoo! site. The purchased space not only acted as a visual advertisement, as in a magazine, but often served as a link to the advertiser's own Web site as well. Thus, a simple click on a banner ad by an Internet user could immediately transport that user to the advertiser's Web site. In this sense, banner ads were somewhat superior to other forms of advertisement in that no other purveyor of advertising (television, radio, magazines) had ever led consumers to a company quite so immediately.

As another means of generating revenue, Yahoo! struck up distribution deals with Web sites that were looking to increase their own traffic. For example, Yahoo!, while not itself an online retailer, boasted a lot of user traffic at its site. An online retailer, however, might have goods or services to sell but a need to first increase traffic at its own site in order to sell those goods. A distribution deal would pair the two sites, with Yahoo! leading its customer traffic to the retailer's site in exchange for a cut of the transaction revenues whenever customers made purchases. In this sense, Yahoo!, along with competitors such as Excite, Infoseek, and Lycos, came to be known as a "portal"a gateway to the rest of the Internet.


Through banner advertising and distribution deals, Yahoo! was able to continue offering its services to Web surfers for free, as opposed to online services such as America Online (AOL), Prodigy, and Microsoft Network. The latter three charged monthly fees for the use of their offerings. Although these online service companies' offerings were often more graphically intricate and visually pleasing than the Yahoo! site, they were essentially providing the same thing as Yahoo! while at the same time charging for the service. According to Jonathan Littman in the July 20, 1998 edition of Upside Today, "Yahoo, much like Amazon.com, built a natural Internet brand through its simple desire to satisfy customers." It was not long before Yahoo!'s user base was comparable to that of industry giant AOL, even though its 1995 revenues topped off at only around $1 million.


The Birth of a Brand Name: 1996

In 1996, Yahoo! went public, offering shares of its stock for $13. In the first day of trading alone, the company's stock price sailed to $43, and its estimated valuation was quoted at upwards of $300 million, more than 15 times its eventual 1996 revenues of approximately $20 million. Around that time, Yahoo! decided to start promoting itself in through advertising. Another former Stanford graduate, Karen Edwards, was brought aboard as the Yahoo! "brand marketer," and she immediately lined up ad agency Black Rocket of San Francisco to handle Yahoo!'s account. Black Rocket was composed of four independent advertising executives who, ironically, owned no computers.

That spring, Yahoo! used almost its entire advertising budget for 1996 to run its first national-scale ad campaign on television. Luckily, the ad was an immediate hit. In the television spot, a fisherman used Yahoo! to obtain some baiting tips, then proceeded to land a number of gigantic fish. According to Jonathan Littman in a July 20, 1998 edition of Upside Today, "The faux testimonial captured the Net's spirit without being the least bit techie." From this campaign arose the company tagline "Do you Yahoo!?" Yahoo! executives hoped that the efforts would help their operation to blossom into a full-fledged media company.

Company Perspectives:

Yahoo! Inc. is a leading global Internet communications, commerce and media company that offers a comprehensive branded network of services to more than 274 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. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., Yahoo! has offices in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australia, Canada and the United States.

The quest to turn the Yahoo! name into a major brand took a few wacky turns along the way. For example, Edwards decided that the Yahoo! name simply needed to be out in the public eye as much as possible, regardless of the manner in which it appeared. Yahoo! posters began appearing at many outdoor locations, such as sporting events, concerts, and even construction sites. The Yahoo! logo was placed everywhere, with one of the most notable places being a tattoo on the rear-end of a Yahoo!'s financial pages' senior producer, when he made good on a lost bet. It was also plastered on the side of the San Jose Sharks' Zamboni ice machine and printed onto items such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream containers and VISA cards. The yellow and purple Yahoo! logo even appeared shrink-wrapped onto five Yahoo! employees' cars, and one spring Edwards planted her flower garden at home in yellow gladioli and purple petunias.


Acquisitions and Further Expansion: 199798

As Yahoo! became a certifiable household brand name, the company began striving to further satisfy the needs of its users. Following the trend set by online service companies such as AOL, Yahoo! added services and features such as chat areas, Yellow Pages, online shopping, and news. The company also added a feature called "My Yahoo!," which was a personalized front page for regular users that displayed information tailored to each user's interests. The company also teamed up with Visa to create an Internet shopping mall (an idea that was later aborted), with publisher Ziff-Davis to create "Yahoo! Internet Life" (an online and print magazine which never came to fruition), and with Netscape to develop a topic-based Internet navigation service to be used with the Netscape Communicator browser software.


By 1997, Internet surfers were using Yahoo! to view approximately 65 million pages of electronic data each day. That year, Yahoo! acquired online White Pages provider Four11 for $95 million. The purchase gave Yahoo! access to Four11's e-mail capabilities, which when integrated into Yahoo!'s offerings allowed the company to provide its users with free e-mail (Yahoo! Mail). By mid-1998, over 40 million people were logging on to Yahoo! each month, 12 million of whom had become registered Yahoo! e-mail users. To put those numbers into perspective, one can consider that at that time, only 30 million people were tuning in to network-leader NBC's top-rated show ER each week, and the number of Yahoo! e-mail users was comparable to that of online service giant AOL.

In July 1998, Yahoo! received a $250 million investment from Japan's Softbank Corporation, increasing Softbank's share of the company to approximately 31 percent. Yahoo!'s market valuation at that time was $6.9 billion, which was much higher than that of most other media companies. As an emerging media company, Yahoo! began to move into the Internet access market that year through the launch of Yahoo! Online. To do so, the company initially formed a partnership with MCI WorldCom, but the arrangement deteriorated later that year. Subsequently, Yahoo! crafted a deal with communications giant AT&T to provide Internet access through AT&T's WorldNet service.

Also in 1998, Yahoo! replaced Digital Equipment's Alta Vista with California-based search engine specialist Inktomi as the supplier of Yahoo!'s search engine. Yahoo! then purchased Viaweb, a producer of Internet software programs. The acquisition resulted in the posting of a one-time $44 million charge in 1998. Yahoo! planned to use Viaweb's software to start a new service, which would allow its users to set up their own Web sites for the purpose of buying and selling goods online.


In October 1998, Yahoo! purchased Yoyodyne Entertainment for 280,664 shares of Yahoo! common stock. Yoyodyne added its permission-based direct marketing capabilities to Yahoo!, which also obtained the company's database of consumers, valuable demographic information, and other Yoyodyne assets. Prior to the acquisition, much of Yoyodyne's direct marketing was done through online games and sweepstakes at Internet sites such as EZSpree.com, GetRichClick.com, EZVenture.com, and EZWheels.com. Yahoo! announced that while those four sites would remain intact after the integration of Yoyodyne into Yahoo!, the former company's overall brand would be phased out.


By the end of the year, Yahoo!'s user traffic had increased considerably since 1997, with Web surfers viewing approximately 95 million pages of information through Yahoo! each day, a huge increase from the previous year's average.


Phenomenal Growth in the 2000s

By the end of the 20th century, the computer industry, and the Internet industry in particular, was becoming increasingly inundated with new players. In July 1998, NBC had purchased a 19 percent interest in Snap!, another portal operated by CNET Inc. Disney followed suit by grabbing a 43 percent stake in Infoseek Corporation. At Home Corporation purchased Excite, Inc., and Microsoft Corporation increased promotion of its MSN portal. Even America Online made moves to increase its scope through the acquisition of Netscape and its Netcenter portal. Nobody wanted to be left out of the Internet game, since many analysts predicted that it would be the next true media industry.

Key Dates:

1994:
The company begins as "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web" and is later renamed Yahoo!
1995:
Yahoo! moves to Netscape.
1996:
The company goes public.
1998:
The company establishes Internet guides in Chinese and Spanish and teams with AT&T's WorldNet Service to provide Internet access.
1999:
GeoCities and Broadcast.com are acquired in a multi-billion dollar deals.
2001:
The company acquires HotJobs.
2003:
Overture Services Inc. is bought in a $1.6 billion stock deal.

Yahoo! tried to maintain its large share of the market by continuing to focus on its users and their satisfaction. Recognizing that it would only take one click of a computer mouse for a Yahoo! user to defect to one of its competitors, the company began to provide its users with even more features and services. In January 1999, Yahoo! announced the purchase of GeoCities, the third most-visited Web site in December 1998 (directly behind top-rated AOL.com) and second-rated Yahoo.com. The GeoCities site was a creator of electronic communities for people. Based on people's interests, GeoCities allowed its users to set up their own personal home pages. Yahoo! hoped that the acquisition of GeoCities would bring many of that site's users to Yahoo!, and vice versa.


The new century saw a dramatic rise in both sales and profits for Yahoo! In 2001 the company had sales of $717 million; in 2002, $953 million; in 2003, $1.6 billion; and in 2004, $3.5 billion, a one-year increase of 120 percent. This period began with a loss of $92.8 million in 2001. In 2002, however, the company posted a net income of $42.8 million. This rose in 2003 to $237.9 million and to a healthy $839.6 million net income in 2004. Such phenomenal growth was fueled by a number of factors, including steady acquisitions of other Internet companies. During the years 2000 to 2004, Yahoo! acquired thirteen companies: Arthas.com, eGroups, Kimo, Sold.com, Launch Media, HotJobs, Inktomi, Overture Services, Beijing 3721 Technology Co. Ltd., FareChase, OddPost Inc., Music-Match, and Kelkoo. Web traffic increases have also played a part. As of March 2004, the Yahoo! network of properties received some 2.4 billion page views per day.

A flurry of new joint ventures also promised continuing growth for Yahoo! In November 2001, the company teamed with SBC Communications to offer co-branded DSL and Dial services. This partnership was reaffirmed in November 2004 when the two companies agreed to a multi-year extension of their venture. They planned to move beyond products offered only on a home computer to products for home television and audio systems, Cingular wireless phones, SBC FreedomLink Wi-Fi, and SBC Home Networking equipment. Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel explained: "The new services that will be developed out of this expanded relationship represent the next step in Yahoo!'s strategy to further deepen consumer relationships by extending our products and services beyond the desktop. SBC and Yahoo! are putting consumers in the driver's seat, delivering what they wantwhen, how and where they want it." In December 2004, the company teamed with Nextel Communications Inc. to offer a group of Yahoo! products and services, including e-mail, instant messaging, games, and news content, on Nextel handheld devices. The venture combined Yahoo!'s wireless messaging capabilities with Nextel's nationwide network. In January 2005, the company signed a deal with Verizon Communications Inc. to offer Verizon's broadband customers a new Verizon Yahoo! portal. "We are very excited to team up with Verizon, the largest communications company in the U.S., as their partner of choice, in order to provide Verizon's subscribers with a compelling new Verizon Yahoo! offering," said Dan Rosensweig, Yahoo!'s chief operating officer. With such ambitious plans for the future, growth projections for Yahoo! remained optimistic.


Principal Subsidiaries

HotJobs.com, Ltd.; Kelkoo S.A.; Musicmatch, Inc.; Overture Services, Inc.; Yahoo! Europe; Yahoo! Japan.


Principal Competitors

America Online, Inc.; About Inc.; Google Inc.; Microsoft Corporation.


Further Reading

Alden, Christopher J., "Kingmaker," Red Herring, August 1998.

Angel, Karen, Inside Yahoo!: Reinvention and the Road Ahead, New York: Wiley, 2002.

Delaney, Kevin J., "Forging Yahoo's Future; CEO Terry Semel Revitalized Web Portal, but Rival Google Could Complicate 'Phase Two,' " Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2004, p. B1.

Delaney, Kevin J., and Dennis K. Berman, "A Big Buy for Yahoo Isn't Likely; Company to Focus Spending Spree on Expanding Global Presence and Increasing Its User Base," Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2004, p. C1.

Gumbel, Andrew, "The Cyberpunks," Independent, March 24, 1999, p. BR5.

Hansell, Saul, "Yahoo to Acquire GeoCities," New York Times, January 28, 1999.

Himelstein, Linda, et. al., "Yahoo!: The Company, the Strategy, the Stock," Business Week, September 7, 1998.

Mittner, Greta, "Yahoo Plays Yoyodyne's Game," Red Herring Online, October 13, 1998.

Napoli, Lisa, "Yoyodyne Deal Signals Next Stage of Marketing," New York Times, October 14, 1998.

"SBC, Yahoo! Extend Pact," Grand Rapids Press, November 19, 2004, p. C3.

Schlender, Brent, "How a Virtuoso Plays the Web: Eclectic, Inquisitive, and Academic, Yahoo's Jerry Yang Reinvents the Role of the Entrepreneur," Fortune, March 6, 2000, p. F79.

Swartz, Jon, "Yahoo's Other Dynamic Duo," San Francisco Chronicle, August 6, 1998, p. D3.

"Winning on the Web," Success, February, 1996, p. 27.

"Yahoo! to Strengthen Investment in China," Alestron, January 31, 2005.


Laura E. Whiteley update: Thomas Wiloch

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Yahoo! Inc.

Yahoo! Inc.

3420 Central Expressway
Santa Clara, California 95051
U.S.A.
(408) 731-3300
Fax: (408) 731-3301
Web site: http://www.yahoo.com

Public Company
Incorporated: 1995
Employees: 475
Sales: $203.3 million (1998)
Stock Exchanges: NASDAQ
Ticker Symbol: YHOO
SICs: 7375 Information Retrieval Services; 7374 Data Processing & Preparation; 7372 Prepackaged Software; 7379 Computer Services, Not Elsewhere Classified

Yahoo! Inc. is one of the worlds leading Internet media companies. Using its seemingly never-ending compilation of links to other web sites, as well as its extensive searchable database, the company helps Internet users throughout the world navigate the World Wide Web. Anyone can access the Yahoo! web site for free, because it is funded not by subscriptions, but by the advertisers who pay to promote their products there. The company leads its competitors in the amount of user traffic at its site, with over 95 million pages of information viewed through Yahoo! each day. The company also offers Internet users other peripheral services, such as free e-mail accounts (Yahoo! Mail), online chat areas (Yahoo! Chat), and news tailored to each users demographic or geographic area (Yahoo! News). About 30 percent of Yahoo! is owned by Japans Softbank Corp., while company founders Jerry Yang and David Filo each own approximately 13 percent.

Humble Beginnings

Yahoo! Inc. got its start in 1994 as the hobby of two Stanford University Ph.D. students who were procrastinating the writing of their doctoral dissertations. Jerry Yang and David Filoboth of whom were candidates in Stanfords electrical engineering doctoral programspent much of their free time surfing the World Wide Web and cataloging their favorite web sites. In doing so, they created a web site of their own, which linked Internet users to Yangs and Filos favorite places in cyberspace. At that time, their site was called Jerrys Guide to the World Wide Web.

As their web site grewboth in size and in the number of links from which it was composedthe number of people who used the site also increased dramatically. Thus, Yang and Filo began spending more and more time on their new hobby, gradually converting the homemade list into a customized database that users could search through to locate web sites related to specific interests. The database itself was originally located on Yangs Stanford student computer workstation, named akebono, while the search engine was located on Filos computer, konishiki (the two computers were named after legendary Hawaiian sumo wrestlers).

As for the transformation of the databases name from Jerrys Guide to the World Wide Web to Yahoo!, the two men became bored with the original tag and set about to change it late one night while bumming around in their trailer on the Stanford campus. Looking to mimic the phrase/acronym Yet Another Compiler Compiler (YACC)a favorite among Unix aficionadosYang and Filo carne up with Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle (YAHOO). Browsing through Websters online edition around midnight, they decided that the general definition of a yahoorude and uncouthwas fitting. Yang was known for his foul language, and Filo was described as being blunt. The two considered themselves to be a couple of major yahoos, and thus the name which would soon become a household brand was born.

It was not long before the Yahoo! database became too large to remain on the Stanford University computer system. In early 1995, Marc Andreessencofounder of Netscape Communicationsinvited Yang and Filo to move Yahoo! to the larger computer system housed at Netscape. Stanford benefited greatly from this move, in that its computer system finally returned to normal after having been inundated by Yahoo!s activity and the computing resources that it required for a year.

Expansion in 1995

Commercialization soon followed. Yang and Filo began selling advertisement space on their site in order to fund further growth. The duo soon realized that it was going to be too difficult to manage both the creative and the administrative aspects of the Yahoo! enterprise. They recruited Tim Koogle, also a former Stanford student, to come aboard as CEO. Prior to his arrival at Yahoo!, Koogle had put himself through engineering school by rebuilding engines and restoring cars, and had then gone on to work at Motorola and InterMec Corp.

One of Koogles first moves as Yahoo! CEO was to bring in Jeff Mallett as COO. Mallett was a former member of the Canadian mens national soccer team, who at age 22 began running the sales, marketing, and business development aspects of his parents telecommunications companyIsland Pacific Telephone in Vancouver. Prior to joining the Yahoo! gang, he also gained experience in marketing at Reference Software and WordPerfect, and acted as vice-president and general manager of Novell Inc.s consumer division. Together, Koogle and Mallett began transforming Yahoo! from a homegrown list of interesting web sites into the most popular stop along the information highway.

Koogle and Mallett soon became known as the parents at Yahoo!s corporate headquarters. While Yang and Filo would arrive at work wearing T-shirts and sneakers, Koogle and Mallett preferred Italian silk ties. Many viewed the foursomes working relationship as that of kids with ideas and the adults that they found to transform the ideas into reality. In the August 6, 1998 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, analyst Andrea Williams of Volpe Brown Whelan & Co. referred to Koogle and Mallett as Yahoos equivalent of the Wizard of Oz, pulling the strings from behind the scenes. Americans are captivated by the idea of two college kids like Yang and Filo starting an incredible service. But [Mallett] and [Koogle] have turned it into a business that advertisers and investors understand and respect.

The majority of Yahoo!s revenue came through banner advertising deals. In basic terms, Yahoo! sold space on its web pages to companies wishing to promote their products to the demographic that frequented the Yahoo! site. The purchased space not only acted as a visual advertisement (such as in a magazine), but was also often an actual link to the advertisers own web site. Thus, a simple click on a banner ad by an Internet user could immediately transport that user to the advertisers web site. In this sense, banner ads were somewhat superior to other forms of advertisement in that no other method of advertising (television, print media, etc.) had ever led consumers to a company quite so immediately.

As another means of generating revenue, Yahoo! also struck up distribution deals with web sites that were looking to increase their own traffic. For example, Yahoo! itself was not an online retailer, but boasted a lot of user traffic at its site. An online retailer, however, might have goods to sell but a need to first increase traffic at its own site in order to sell those goods. A distribution deal would pair the two sites, with Yahoo! leading its customer traffic to the retailers site in exchange for a cut of the transaction revenues whenever customers made purchases. In this sense, Yahoo! (along with competitors such as Excite, Infoseek, and Lycos) came to be known as a portala gateway to the rest of the Internet.

Through banner advertising and distribution deals, Yahoo! was able to continue offering its services to web surfers for free, as opposed to online services such as America Online (AOL), Prodigy, and Microsoft Network. The latter three charged monthly fees for the use of their offerings. Although these online service companies offerings were often more graphically intricate and visually pleasing than the Yahoo! site, they were essentially offering the same thing as Yahoo!and for a lot more money. According to Jonathan Littman in the July 20, 1998 edition of Upside Today,Yahoo, much like Amazon.com, built a natural Internet brand through its simple desire to satisfy customers. It was not long before Yahoo! s user base was comparable to that of industry giant AOL, even though its 1995 revenues topped off at only around $1 million.

1996: The Birth of a Brand Name

In 1996, Yahoo! went public, offering shares of its stock for $13. In the first day of trading alone, the companys stock price sailed to $43, and its estimated valuation was quoted at upwards of $300 millionmore than 15 times its eventual 1996 revenues of approximately $20 million. Around that time, Yahoo! decided to start promoting itself in the public advertising arena. Another former Stanford graduateKaren Edwardswas brought aboard as the Yahoo! brand marketer, and immediately lined up ad agency Black Rocket of San Francisco to handle Yahoo!s account. Black Rocket was composed of four independent advertising executives who, ironically, owned no computers.

That spring, Yahoo! used almost its entire advertising budget for 1996 to run its first national-scale ad campaign on television. Luckily, the ad was an immediate hit. In the television spot, a fisherman used Yahoo! to obtain some baiting tips, and then proceeded to land multiple gigantic fish. According to Jonathan Littman in a July 20, 1998 edition of Upside Today,The faux testimonial captured the Nets spirit without being the least bit techie. From this campaign arose the company tagline Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! executives hoped that the efforts would help their company blossom into a full-fledged media company.

The quest to turn the Yahoo! name into a major brand took a few wacky turns along the way. For example, Edwards decided that the Yahoo! name simply needed to be out in the public eye as much as possible, regardless of the manner in which it appeared. Yahoo! posters began appearing at many outdoor locations, such as sporting events, concerts, and even construction sites. The Yahoo! logo was placed everywhere, with one of the most notable places being a tattoo on the rear-end of a Yahoo!s financial pages senior producer, when he made good on a lost bet. It was also plastered on the side of the San Jose Sharks Zamboni ice machine, and printed onto items such as Ben & Jerrys ice cream containers and Visa cards. The yellow and purple Yahoo! logo even appeared shrink-wrapped onto five Yahoo! employees cars, and one spring Edwards planted her flower garden at home in yellow gladioli and purple petunias.

1997-98: Acquisitions and Further Expansion

As Yahoo! became a certifiable household brand name, the company began striving to further satisfy the needs of its users. Following the trend set by online service companies such as AOL, Yahoo! added services and features such as chat areas, Yellow Pages, online shopping, and news. The company also added a feature called My Yahoo!, which was a personalized front page for regular users that displayed information tailored to each users interests. The company also teamed up with Visa to create an Internet shopping mall (an idea that was later aborted); with publisher Ziff-Davis to create Yahoo! Internet Life (an online and print magazine which never came to fruition); and with Netscape to develop a topic-based Internet navigation service to be used with the Netscape Communicator browser software.

By 1997, Internet surfers were using Yahoo! to view approximately 65 million pages of electronic data each day. That year, Yahoo! acquired online white-pages provider Four 11 for $95 million. The purchase gave Yahoo! access to Fourlls e-mail capabilities, which when integrated into Yahoo!s offerings allowed the company to provide its users with free e-mail (Yahoo! Mail) as well. By mid-1998, over 40 million people were logging on to Yahoo! each month12 million of whom had become registered Yahoo! e-mail users. To put those numbers into perspective, one can consider the following: at that time, only 30 million people were tuning in to network-leader NBCs top-rated show (ER) each week, and the number of Yahoo! e-mail users was comparable to that of online service giant AOL.

In July 1998, Yahoo! received a $250 million investment from Japans Softbank Corp., increasing Softbanks share of the company to approximately 31 percent. Yahoo!s market valuation at that time was $6.9 billionmuch higher than that of most other media companies. As an emerging media company, Yahoo! began to move into the Internet access market that year through the launch of Yahoo! Online. To do so, the company initially formed a partnership with MCI WorldCom, but the arrangement deteriorated later that year. Thus, Yahoo! struck up a deal with communications giant AT&T, to provide Internet access through AT&Ts WorldNet service.

Also in 1998, Yahoo! replaced Digital Equipments Alta Vista with California-based search engine specialist Inktomi, as the supplier of Yahoo!s search engine. Yahoo! then purchased Viaweb, a producer of Internet software programs. The acquisition resulted in the posting of a one-time $44 million charge in 1998. Yahoo! planned to use Viawebs software to start a new service, which would allow its users to set up their own web sites for the purpose of buying and selling goods online.

In October 1998, Yahoo! purchased Yoyodyne Entertainment for 280,664 shares of Yahoo! common stock. Yoyodyne added its permission-based direct marketing capabilities to Yahoo!, which also obtained the companys database of consumers, valuable demographic information, and other Yoyodyne assets. Prior to the acquisition, much of Yoyodynes direct marketing was done through online games and sweepstakes at Internet sites such as EZSpree.com, GetRichClick.com, EZVenture.com, and EZWheels.com. Yahoo! announced that while those four sites would remain intact after the integration of Yoyodyne into Yahoo!, the former companys overall brand would be phased out.

By the end of the year, Yahoo!s user traffic had increased considerably since 1997, with web surfers viewing approximately 95 million pages of information through Yahoo! each daya huge increase from the previous years average.

The End of the Century and Beyond

By the end of the 20th century, the computer industryand the Internet industry in particularwas becoming increasingly inundated with new players. In July 1998, NBC had purchased a 19 percent interest in Snap!another portal operated by CNET Inc. Disney followed suit by grabbing a 43 percent stake in Infoseek Corporation; At Home Corporation purchased Excite, Inc.; and Microsoft Corporation increased promotion of its MSN portal. Even America Online made moves to increase its scope through the acquisition of Netscape and its Netcenter portal. Nobody wanted to be left out of the Internet game, since many analysts predicted that it would be the next true media industry.

By the end of the 1990s, it was approximated that 90 million people throughout the world had Internet access and were surfing the web on a somewhat regular basis. According to International Data Corp. in the September 7, 1998 edition of Business Week, it was predicted that figure would balloon to 328 million people by 2002. As stated by Business Weeks Himelstein, Green, Siklos, and Yang, Whats emerging faster than many imagined is a Net generation that rises not to its newspapers and TV news shows but to its coffee and glowing computer screens. Some 64 percent of cybersurfers watch less TV now than they did before their Web-cruising days, while 48 percent are not reading as much, according to market researchers Strategis Group.

Yahoo! tried to maintain its large share of the market by continuing to focus on its users and their satisfaction. Recognizing that it would only take one click of a computer mouse for a Yahoo! user to defect to one of its competitors, the company made moves to provide its users with even more. In January 1999, Yahoo! announced the purchase of GeoCities, the third most-visited web site in December 1998directly behind top-rated AOL.com, and second-rated Yahoo.com. The GeoCities site was a creator of electronic communities for people. Based on peoples interests, GeoCities allowed its users to set up their own personal home pages. Yahoo! hoped that the acquisition of GeoCities would bring many of that sites users to Yahoo!, and vice versa.

As the 21st century approached, many people felt that the Internet industry was nearing a shakeout, through which only a handful of companies would survive. Yahoo! was poised to weather the storm, however, and possessed the resources to do so. As the first Internet company to go public and the first to turn a profit, as well as the first to advertise itself on national television, Yahoo!s brand was well known and its site was rated at the top of the heap. According to analyst Paul Noglows of Hambrecht & Quist Inc. in the September 7, 1998 edition of Business Week,Yahoo has the potential to emerge as the first pure Internet giant. Its ability to do so in the computer-dependent environment of the 21st century seemed certain.

Further Reading

Alden, Christopher J., Kingmaker, Red Herring, August 1998.

Hansell, Saul, Yahoo to Acquire GeoCities, The New York Times, January 28, 1999.

Himelstein, Linda, Heather Green, Richard Siklos, and Catherine Yang, Yahoo!; The Company, the Strategy, the Stock, Business Week, September 7, 1998.

Mittner, Greta, Yahoo Plays Yoyodynes Game, Red Herring Online, October 13, 1998.

Napoli, Lisa, Yoyodyne Deal Signals Next Stage of Marketing, New York Times, October 14, 1998.

Swartz, Jon, Yahoos Other Dynamic Duo, San Francisco Chronicle, August 6, 1998, p. D3.

Laura E. Whiteley

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Yahoo! Inc

YAHOO! INC.

As one of the early Internet search engines, Yahoo! enjoyed the benefits of being first to market as it evolved from a search engine to an Internet portal. Yahoo! became a strong Internet brand in its first year of operation. It was the first search engine to develop a commercial look and one of the first to attract online advertisers. While the company has developed alternative revenue streams, it has remained dependent on Internet advertising for the bulk of its revenue.

FORMATION OF YAHOO!

Yahoo! began in 1994 as a database for finding Internet resources. The online directory of Web servers was developed by two Stanford University graduate students, Jerry Yang and David Filo, who had Master's degrees in electrical engineering. Their Web search engine was initially made available to the public on Stanford's Web site, where it was an instant hit. Unlike other search engines that would come along, Yahoo! used hierarchical menus to organize Web sites. Yang and Filo soon took a leave from their doctoral studies to devote themselves full-time to Yahoo!.

Yahoo Corp. was formed in April 1995. Tim Koogle, a Stanford graduate in electrical engineering and mathematics, joined as CEO, and the company had 14 employees. By April 1995 Yahoo had about 200,000 daily users who accessed its search engine. The company obtained $1 million in financial backing from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. Users could search 40,000 Web pages, a small percentage of the 5 million then in existence.

Yahoo hoped to generate revenue by selling advertising space. Web design firm CKS Partners of Portland, Oregon, was hired to redesign Yahoo!'s interface. On July 31, Yahoo was relaunched as an advertising-supported directory. Five advertisers paid $60,000 each for a three-month contract. They included telecommunications giant MCI Communications Corp., a San Francisco-based startup called Worlds Inc., the Internet Shopping Network, MasterCard International, and online retailer NECX. The only competition at the time was InfoSeek, which began in January 1995. InfoSeek also gained revenue from ads, charging $15 for every 1,000 times an ad appeared on someone's computer screen. Yang expected that competition would soon become fierce.

Analysts noted Yahoo's new commercial look and predicted it would become the model for future services on the Internet. The site displayed a newly designed company logo. "Extra!" news tag added to some headings suggested more informational depth. Computer Weekly predicted, "Eventually, the company may become a one-step site for all the services an Internet user might want."

STRONG BRAND HELPS IPO SUCCEED, 1996

After its first year of operation Yahoo! was the best known and most widely used Internet guide. The company had attracted an additional $4 million in financial backing from Ziff-Davis Publishing Co. and Japanese software giant Softbank Corp. It generated $500,000 in revenue in its first six months. In January 1996 Ziff-Davis and Yahoo! formed a strategic partnership whereby the magazine ZD Internet Life would become Yahoo! Internet Life and the two companies would publish an online guide for computing resources on the Internet.

At the beginning of 1996 Yahoo! provided links to about 100,000 sites. The company tried to list the most important sites. It worked closely with advertisers and supplied them with demographic information and traffic reports. To broaden its perspective, Yahoo! formed a partnership with the Internet division of Canada's Rogers Communications to develop an Internet search service for Canadian sites. Around this time Rogers also launched CANOE, the Canadian Online Explorer, which enabled users to browse online editions of such Rogers publications as Maclean's, The Financial Post, and the Sun newspapers.

Yahoo! held its initial public offering (IPO) in April 1996, selling 2.6 million shares at $13 per share on the NASDAQ. By the end of the first week shares more than doubled to nearly $33. Search engines Lycos and Excite also had their IPOs that same month. Following its IPO, Yahoo! Inc. enjoyed a market capitalization of more than $1 billion. It gained a $106 million investment from Softbank and together the two companies launched Yahoo! Japan, which was the first major directory service to contain language and content for a non-English speaking audience. Yahoo! Japan quickly became the most-trafficked site outside of North America. Softbank owned a 37 percent interest in Yahoo!

Yahoo! and Ziff-Davis International Media Group partnered to launch Yahoo! Europe in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, with other countries to follow in 1997. In the United States Yahoo! began forming online alliances with local print and broadcast media companies to create city guides that organized and indexed sites relating to each city. The first cities to be covered were New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Yahoo! rolled out many new services in 1996, including My Yahoo!, a personalized service that delivered content from a user's favorite Web sites and provided other personalized information based on user preferences.

Although it was the recognized market leader, Yahoo! lost money in 1996, and its stock fell by 44 percent. Yahoo! planned to become profitable by turning itself into a media company. As Yang told Fortune, "The fundamental bet we are making is that we are a media company, not a tools company." The company planned to survive by creating brand loyalty.

ADDS SERVICES AND BECOMES A PORTAL, 1997-1998

Yahoo!'s branding efforts resulted in 39 percent of the general public knowing the Yahoo! name, according to a Yankelovich study. To build its brand recognition Yahoo! was the first Internet-only company to advertise on television. New services launched in 1997 included Yahoo! Finance, which included investment research, market summaries, and financial news as well as links to stock quotes, company profiles, and similar information.

By 1997 Yahoo! was posting profitable quarterly financial results, including $210,000 in the first quarter and $610,000 in the second quarter. Revenue in the second quarter more than quadrupled to $13.5 million from $3.3 million a year ago. First-quarter advertising sales were $9.5 million, compared to $1.7 million in the first quarter of 1996. Third quarter revenue reached $17.3 million, with an operating profit of $222,000 and net income of $1.6 million. Traffic reached an average of 50 million page views per day in September. Wall Street took note and toward the end of 1997 analysts were recommending Yahoo! as being financially sound and likely to benefit from increased Internet spending by advertisers and retailers.

During 1998 Yahoo! developed plans for becoming a portal and developing additional revenue streams from commerce and other sources. In mid-1998 the company acquired Viaweb Inc., an Internet commerce software vendor, for $49 million in stock. The acquisition gave Yahoo! the ability to design, build, promote, and host online storefronts and give merchants tracking and reporting tools. The Viaweb Store was subsequently relaunched as Yahoo! Store. Later in the year Yahoo! acquired Yoyodyne for about $30 million in stock. Yoyodyne specialized in target marketing, and Yahoo! would use its resources to develop ongoing promotional programs for its advertisers.

Yahoo! continued to operate at a profit in 1998. For the first quarter it had revenue of $30.2 million and a net profit of $4.3 million. About 22 percent of its revenue came from commerce and sponsorships. Strong traffic helped Yahoo! report financial results ahead of analysts' expectations for the rest of the year. In May Yahoo! led all Internet sites with 30.6 million unique visitors, followed by America Online with 22.8 million and Netscape with 18.9 million. For September average page views reached 144 million, with the number of registered users increasing by 7 million to more than 25 million. PC Magazine named Yahoo! the best Web search engine of 1997, citing its news-searching capabilities and extensively cross-referenced directory. It also praised the company's microsites, including Yahoo! Finance, regional guides, Yahooligans! For Kids, and Beatrice's Web Guide, a partnership with Women's Wire. Yahoo! also featured chat rooms and a free e-mail service. For fiscal 1998 the company's revenue reached $203.3 million, up from $70.5 million in fiscal 1997.

Yahoo! extended its brand in many ways. Globally it operated sites in 11 countries overseas, including a newly launched Chinese-language Web site based in Hong Kong. Like other search engines, Yahoo! offered extra services such as news, yellow and white pages, free e-mail, chat, and instant messaging. The Yahoo! name was also found on its own magazine, Yahoo! Internet Life, and a co-branded Visa credit card. New services launched in 1998 included Yahoo! Small Business and Yahoo! Clubs.

ACQUISITIONS AND NEW SERVICES, 1999-2000

In 1999 Yahoo! enjoyed strong revenue growth and profitability due to its global operations. Its stock joined the Standard & Poor 500 Index. Early in the year the company announced that it would acquire GeoCities, one of the largest domains on the World Wide Web, for an estimated $3.5 to $5 billion in stock. GeoCities hosted personal Web sites and sold ads on those sites. In its most recent quarter GeoCities lost $8.4 million on sales of $7.5 million.

Later in the first half of 1999 Yahoo! made another major acquisition when it paid $5.7 billion in stock for Broadcast.com, a multimedia Internet broadcasting company with the capability to send TV-quality video over the Internet. For 1998 Broadcast.com lost $15 million on sales of $24.4 million. As part of its strategy to deliver content to wireless devices, Yahoo! acquired Online Anywhere in June for about $80 million. Online Anywhere's software would enable Yahoo! to more easily format its content for wireless devices.

Among the many new services introduced during 1999 on Yahoo! were auctions, Yahoo! Radio, Corporate My Yahoo!, electronic bill paying, and Yahoo! Everywhere. A new version of its instant messaging service incorporated live voices, allowing users to talk to each other by pressing a talk button. The company's broad array of services added a great deal of "stickiness" to its site and kept people coming back.

Yahoo!'s fourth quarter profits surged to $57.6 million on revenue of $201 million, due to soaring advertising and e-commerce revenue. During December 1999 traffic increased to an average of 465 million page views per day, compared to 167 million page views per day in December 1998. The company's international operations accounted for 30 percent of its traffic and 13 percent of its revenue.

Yahoo! enjoyed strong revenue growth during the first half of 2000. In the second half of the year the dot.com shakeout began to affect Yahoo!'s advertising revenue as advertisers cut back on their spending. Yahoo!'s mid-2000 acquisition of eGroups for $432 million in stock enhanced the company's e-mail communications services for its online communities.

At the end of the first quarter Yahoo! had 125 million registered users for its personalized services, an increase of 25 million over December 1999. Page views per day rose to 625 million in March. A promotional arrangement with Kmart's Bluelight.com resulted in 1 million new users for Yahoo! With a network of 10,500 linked merchants, Yahoo! claimed that it enabled more than $1 billion of online transactions in the first quarter of 2000.

Even though Yahoo!'s third quarter earnings exceeded expectations, the company's stock dropped 21 percent following its quarterly report. In spite of Yahoo!'s diversification, analysts noted that page views and site traffic were the most important factors driving the company's revenue. In the first half of 2000, advertising accounted for 91 percent of Yahoo!'s revenue, with business services accounting for the other 9 percent. In the third quarter the company's merchant and advertising base fell to 3,450 from 3,675 in the second quarter.

New services launched in 2000 included the Yahoo! B2B Marketplace, a site designed to help companies find products and suppliers by serving as a portal to other vertical trading communities. Targeting enterprise customers, Yahoo! introduced Corporate Yahoo!, an enterprise information portal that would contain both Yahoo! content and corporate data. Corporate Yahoo! included personalization features taken from the My Yahoo! service for consumers.

During the year Yahoo! upgraded its instant messenger service to let users conduct hands-free conversations by eliminating the talk button. Conversation links were also added to news stories to enable people to talk to other users about a particular story. Yahoo! Finance Vision was a new site that incorporated video interviews, original production, and editorial content from other providers, all on one Internet page.

Consumers interested in conducting their personal finance transactions online were introduced to a new account aggregation service on Yahoo!, where they could consolidate their banking, credit card, investment, and other financial account information using Yahoo!'s online banking center or its My Yahoo! personalization tool.

Yahoo!'s communications initiative and its Yahoo! Everywhere program converged when the company began offering free voice-based services that included Internet content over the telephone, voice mail, and long distance calling. With Yahoo! by Phone, users could call a toll-free number to check e-mail, weather, news, and other information. Yahoo! Mail was expanded to include voice mail, while Yahoo! Messenger was extended to include the ability to make free PC-to-phone calls.

WEAK AD MARKET RESULTS IN QUARTERLY LOSSES, 2001

Further weakness in the online advertising market affected Yahoo!'s financial performance in 2001. Several stock analysts downgraded the company's stock at the beginning of the year. After a year-long slide, Yahoo!'s stock had lost 90 percent of its value. Profits for the first quarter were down 87 percent from a year ago, and second quarter losses of $48.5 million were accompanied by reduced earnings forecasts. In March chairman and CEO Tim Koogle gave up his CEO title but remained as chairman. Terry Semel, a former entertainment executive who was once co-CEO of Warner Bros., was hired as the new CEO. In April the company laid off 421 employees, some 12 percent of its 3,510 workers. Co-founder Jerry Yang noted that Yahoo! was in a transition from a period of tremendous growth to one of long-term growth in a volatile economy. To sustain that growth Yahoo! sought to balance its revenue from advertising, e-commerce, and services. One analyst speculated that Yahoo! would begin charging subscription fees for services such as multimedia content, enhanced financial services, and enhanced instant messaging.

In an effort to boost revenue and develop new revenue streams in 2001, Yahoo! Auctions began charging listing fees in January. In February it introduced a Sponsored Sites program for B2B and shopping, whereby paid listings would appear in some search results. Later in the year Yahoo! began charging U.S. customers for domestic voice calls made over the Internet as part of an updated version of Yahoo! Messenger. Yahoo! also expanded its B2B efforts by introducing three Industry Marketplaces for computer hardware, software, and electronics.

The addition of multimedia services also appeared to be a key part of Yahoo!'s plan to develop new revenue streams. The company began using streaming media to encourage online shopping on Yahoo! ShoppingVision and entered into a strategic relationship with ValueVision International, the third-largest home shopping network. Yahoo! also added video to its instant messaging service, which ranked third behind America Online and the Microsoft Network. Yahoo!'s $12 million acquisition of Launch.com added streaming music videos and music news as well as an Internet radio station. Yahoo! also entered into a wide-ranging agreement with Sony that included online movie marketing, e-commerce, and Web site development. For corporations, Yahoo! introduced Yahoo! Broadcast Services to give them Internet broadcasting capabilities for videoconferencing.

Despite its financial woes, Yahoo! continued to be one of the most popular Internet destination in 2001. In March it was the number one Internet property in terms of both page views and unique audience, ahead of such sites as eBay, Amazon.com, America Online, the Microsoft Network, and the Lycos Network. According to a mid-2001 study by Jupiter Media Metrix, Yahoo! was one of four Internet sites that accounted for more than half of all the time spent online by Internet users in the United States. With more than 192 million registered users as of mid-2001, Yahoo! had more people using its site than any other company.

FURTHER READING:

Anderson, Jennifer L. "Yahoo!" PC Magazine, January 6, 1998.

Hansell, Saul. "Red Face for the Internet's Blue Chip." The New York Times, March 11, 2001.

Hodges, Jane. "Winning and Keeping Web Surfers." Fortune, May 24, 1999.

Maloney, Janice. "Yahoo! Still Searching for Profits on the Internet." Fortune, December 9, 1996.

Moody, Glyn. "The New Yahoo and the Future of the Internet." Computer Weekly, September 7, 1995.

. "Yahoo Brands Itself as an Internet Innovator." Computer Weekly, April 9, 1998.

Rupley, Sebastian. "Big Portals Do B2B." PC Magazine, May 23, 2000.

Sausner, Rebecca. "Report: Yahoo! Retains Online Ratings Crown." E-Commerce Times, May 1, 2001. Available from www.ecommercetimes.com.

Stodder, Gayle Sato. "Unconventional Thinking: Yahoo!" Entrepreneur, September 1997.

Taylor, Dennis. "Yahoo Reshaping Continues with Debut of Financial Site." The Business Journal, May 5, 2000.

Wilson, Tim. "AOL, Yahoo Jump into B-to-B Services." Inter-netWeek, March 27, 2000.

"Yahoo! to the Rescue." Business Week, September 11, 2000.

SEE ALSO: Filo, David; Koogle, Timothy; Portals, Web; Yang, Jerry; Ziff-Davis Inc.

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