If one considers the late nineties and early years of 21stcentury, one giant ruled the internet segment—Yahoo!. Be it search engine, online tabloid, finance reports, or anything else, Yahoo! was the go-to solution for online needs, a powerful mega web services provider. While the brand may not be as powerful as it once was, it still wields influence even in the presence of competitors like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others. 26 years and still counting!
Yahoo! was founded in the year 1994 by Jerry Yang and David Filo. An electrical engineer by profession, Filo co-founded Yahoo! at Stanford University. Initially, the duo called their venture, “Jerry and David’s guide to the World Wide Web”.
After launching Yahoo!, Filo recognized the potential of this website and subsequently launched ‘Yahoo! Inc.’. What started out as a web portal soon turned into something larger. Yahoo! became popular and started acquiring online gaming websites like ClassicGames.com, thereby releasing Yahoo! Games. Due to its partnership with multiple websites, Yahoo! enjoys considerable web traffic. By November 1994, its popularity sky-rocketed and 170,000 unique visitors were accessing the site every day.
Soon, more than a million web users were visiting Yahoo! daily. While David was operating Yahoo! alongside Jerry for enjoyment, they were revolutionizing the world wide web. Companies like Microsoft and Prodigy approached Jerry-David to buy Yahoo!, but they simply refused.
Problems With Stanford University
Success stories and struggles go hand in hand. The story of Yahoo! was no different. While at Stanford, David and Jerry faced infrastructure issues. They were using the servers provided by Stanford and when the company was expanding, the systems regularly crashed. The Stanford University administration asked the duo to take their venture off-campus. However, this move encouraged the team at Yahoo! to take it to the next level, from a college experiment to full-fledged business unit.
After funding from known sources was secured, the pair of Filo and Yang took a leave of absence from Stanford. They then hired school friends and interns to work for their company. Tim Koogle, former president of Motorola Inc., was roped in to add experience to the emerging team.
By 1995, Yahoo! had become a formidable company. An alliance with the famous Reuters boosted its popularity as users could access news headlines with a click.
David Filo’s Marketing Strategy
A great entrepreneur knows how to pump customers with exciting offerings. Filo added new sections such as quotations, weather, and sports scores to the website. Extensions like ‘My Yahoo’ and ‘Yahooligans’, a special version of the website for children in the 8-14 age group, were released. By 1999, the company was making profit from the advertisements displayed on the website and related pages. Yahoo! Inc. also made special co-op deals with online retailers all over the world.
Even after achieving success and becoming a sensation, Filo’s lifestyle didn’t see changes. As usual, he went to office in a junk-filled Datsun, and his office desk was still surrounded by litter cans all around.
Coming Up With The Name Yahoo!
The name Yahoo! is an urban legend. It stands for ‘Yet Another Hierarchic Officious Oracle’. The name became popular overnight courtesy of Filo and Yang’s brilliance.
Connection With Netscape
Yahoo! and Netscape, two of the most popular websites, have some common elements. In return for a graphical link on Yahoo!’s homepage, Netscape’s founder gave the required equipment to keep the website running. A directory button was later added on the Netscape website which led to Yahoo!’s homepage. However, this didn’t go on for long and Netscape ditched Yahoo! for another website which offered a larger sum. Betrayals are inevitable.
According to many sources, Yahoo!’s decline began in 2000 when its search engine was powered by Google. After an all-time low value of the stocks at 4.40 USD, its popularity decreased and Google took over as the dominant player. Yahoo!’s rigidness in keeping up with evolving trends (much like Nokia’s debacle) was the salt rubbed into the wound.
Why To Follow David Filo
Filo transformed his hobby into profession. His work went on to leave a drastic mark on the World Wide Web. Although it’s Google that is the big shot at present, one cannot overlook Yahoo!’s dominance in the 20thcentury and early 21st century.
David Filo's net worth is $4.3 billion. Filo is one of the early men to have realized the potential of the world wide web. His initiative came at a time when the internet segment was in its infancy. Innovation drove Yahoo! to prominence. What started with providing weather forecasts, match scores, and quotations is a behemoth today.
Also Read: Life Story of Sundar Pichai
David Filo’s story should compel you to explore those untouched opportunities in the digital world and fill in gaps yet to be identified!