A Brief History of Yahoo

Two Electrical Engineering graduate students at Stanford University in January of 1994 created a website named “David and Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web”. Jerry Yang and David Filo came up with this web site as a directory for other web sites on the internet. Their web site offered a list of links that when a key word was entered, the one with the most hits would show up first. This new process was organized by popularity as opposed to searching through an index of pages that could take several minutes and in some cases even hours to find the information that one was looking for. Thus, the way search engines worked on the internet, was changed forever.

Before the end of 1994, Filo and Yang’s web site had received over one million hits. Looking for a catchier name for their now popular web site, the pair changed the name in April of 1994 to “Yahoo!”. Filo and Yang liked the word’s general definition, which came from an imaginary race of people in the classic novel “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift. These characters called “Yahoo” embodied many negative traits such as being rude, uncouth and unsophisticated. The founders thought this term best fit their new form of search engine, since it was so unconventional when compared to other search engines of the early 1990’s. On January 18, 1994 the domain name yahoo.com was official.

Since the trademark name “Yahoo” was used by many companies for products such as knives, personal watercraft and barbeque sauce, the two decided to use an exclamation point to the name. Unfortunately the exclamation point is usually left off of the end of the name when one is referring to Yahoo! since it has become a household name.

Yang and Filo fully soon realized that with over a million hits under their belt, that Yahoo! had a tremendous business potential. Yahoo! became incorporated on March 2, 1995. Once the company obtained two rounds of venture capital from Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital in the sum of 3 million dollars in April of 1995, the search engine was off and running. The company soon became publicly traded on the stock market for $13.00 a share. Yahoo! sold 2.6 million shares and raised $33.8 million dollars for its budding enterprise in the 1990’s.

Since the 1990’s, Yahoo! has changed the way we surf the web. Yahoo! has expanded its empire by launching their own email service, game site and advertising divisions. This valuable search tool has not only revolutionized the internet and how we use it today, it has also transformed a simple idea into one of the most recognized brand names throughout the world.