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Filo, David

FILO, DAVID

David Filo co-founded Yahoo! Inc. with fellow Stanford University doctoral student Jerry Yang in March of 1995. Initially a search tool for the World Wide Web, Yahoo! grew into the leading Internet portal with more than 100 million surfers using the site every month by the year 2000. Filo continues to oversee the technological development of Yahoo! and owns roughly eight percent of its stock.

Filo earned an undergraduate degree in computer engineering from Tulane University. After completing his master's degree in electrical engineering at Stanford University, Filo elected to stay at Stanford to begin working on a doctorate degree in electrical engineering. It was there that he and Yang became friends in 1989. After having difficulty keeping track of his growing list of favorite sites with the new Mosaic software that allowed users to browse the World Wide Web, Filo enlisted Yang's help to develop a program that would let him to group these pages together by subject. Filo and Yang then posted the organized list of sites, named "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web," on the Web. After receiving e-mail from Web users across the globe about the usefulness of the list, Filo and Yang decided to catalog the entire Web, using several layers of categories and subcategories.

As traffic on the site grew, Stanford began experiencing bottlenecks and eventually asked Filo and Yang to move the site to the commercial sector. After turning down buyout offers from the likes of Netscape and AOL, Filo and Yang decided to postpone their dissertations and co-found Yahoo!, an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle." Recognizing their limitations, the pair hired Tim Koogle to run the business, focusing their efforts instead on developing the technology (Filo's area of expertise), and creating a household brand name (a task well suited to the outgoing Yang). When the company conducted its initial public offering in 1996, Filo and Yang both became millionaires. Their shares eventually were worth billions.

As the head of technology, Filo is largely responsible for creating many of Yahoo's innovations, including its main sources of revenue. The firm makes its money mainly from advertising, specifically the banner bars and button ads that appear along the edges of Web pages. Thanks to technology that allows the firm to monitor a browser's online activity, Yahoo! is able to push advertising closely related to each user's interests. That technology also allows the firm to keep track of how many surfers click on an advertisement, giving marketing firms valuable information about how many people they are reaching. Other revenue sources include operating e-stores for retailers and designing Web sites for corporate clients. Although declining advertising sales and tumbling stock prices prompted Yahoo! to announce in 2001 that its CEO, Timothy Koogle, would be stepping down to make room for a new leader, Filo and Yang both plan to retain their roles at Yahoo!.

FURTHER READING:

Mangalindan, Mylene; and Suein L. Hwang. "Yahoo!'s Isolation Plays into Downfall; The Coteries of Early Hires Made the Company a Hit, but an Insular Place." Contra Costa Times. March 11, 2001.

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.

Stross, Randall E. "How Yahoo! Won the Search Wars." Fortune. March 2, 1998.

"Web Crawlers." Forbes. October 9, 2000.

SEE ALSO: Koogle, Timothy; Yahoo! Inc.; Yang, Jerry

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Yahoo's David Filo

YAHOO'S DAVID FILO

Born in 1966 in Wisconsin, David Filo grew up in Louisiana in an "alternative community" (a commune-like atmosphere) with six other families. He received his B.A. from Tulane University in New Orleans before relocating to California to attend Stanford University. At Stanford, Filo met Jerry Yang and the pair went on to create Yahoo. In time the pair's "road map" to the Internet, called Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web, was renamed Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web. Yang has received more notoriety for Yahoo because he has served as its spokesperson while Filo has preferred to stay behind the scenes.

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