History of Yahoo!

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This article covers the history of the popular web portal Yahoo! Inc.


Early history (1994-1996)

In January 1994, Stanford graduate students Jerry Yang and David Filo created a website named "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web". Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web was a directory of other web sites, organized in a hierarchy, as opposed to a searchable index of pages.

In April 1994, "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web" was renamed "Yahoo!". "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle" is a backronym for this name, but Filo and Yang insist they selected the name because they liked the word's general definition, as in Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift: "rude, unsophisticated, uncouth."[1]

By the end of 1994, Yahoo! had already received one million hits. Yang and Filo realized their website had massive business potential, and on 2 March 1995, Yahoo! was incorporated.[2] On 12 April 1996, Yahoo! had its initial public offering, raising $33.8 million dollars, by selling 2.6 million shares at $13 each.

"Yahoo" had already been trademarked for barbecue sauce, knives (by EBSCO Industries) and human propelled watercraft (by Old Town Canoe Co.). Therefore, in order to get the trademark, Yang and Filo added the exclamation mark to the name.[3] However, the exclamation mark is often incorrectly omitted when referring to Yahoo!

Growth (1997-1999)

Like many search engines and web directories, Yahoo! diversified into a Web portal. In the late 1990s, Yahoo!, MSN, Lycos, Excite and other Web portals were growing rapidly. Web portal providers rushed to acquire companies to expand their range of services, in the hope of increasing the time a user stays at the portal.

On 8 March 1997, Yahoo! acquired online communications company Four11. Four11's webmail service, Rocketmail, became Yahoo! Mail. Yahoo! also acquired ClassicGames.com and turned it into Yahoo! Games. Yahoo! then acquired direct marketing company Yoyodyne Entertainment, Inc. on 12 October 1998.[4] On 28 January 1999, Yahoo! acquired web hosting provider GeoCities. Another company Yahoo! acquired was eGroups, which became Yahoo! Groups after the acquisition on 28 June 2000. Yahoo! also launched Yahoo! Messenger on 21 July 1999.

When acquiring companies, Yahoo! often changed the relevant terms of service. For example, they claimed intellectual property rights for content on their servers, unlike the companies they acquired. As a result, many of the acquisitions were controversial and unpopular with users of the existing services.

Dot-com bubble (2000-2001)

On 3 January 2000, at the height of the Dot-com boom, Yahoo! stocks closed at an all-time high of $118.75 a share. 16 days later, shares in Yahoo! Japan became the first stocks in Japanese history to trade at over ¥100,000,000, reaching a price of 101.4 million yen ($962,140 at that time). [5]

On 7 February 2000, yahoo.com was brought to a halt for a few hours as it was the victim of a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS).[6] [7]. On the next day, its shares rose about $16, or 4.5 percent as the failure was blamed on hackers rather than on an internal glitch, unlike a fault with eBay earlier that year.

During the dot-com boom, the cable news station CNBC also reported that Yahoo! and eBay were discussing a 50/50 merger.[8] Although the merger never materialised the two companies decided to form a marketing/advertising alliance six years later in 2006.[9]

On 26 June 2000, Yahoo! and Google signed an agreement which would make Google power searches made on yahoo.com.[10]

Post dot-com bubble (2002-2005)

Yahoo! was one of the few surviving companies after the dot-com bubble burst. Nevertheless, on September 26, 2001, Yahoo! stocks closed at an all-time low of $8.11.

Yahoo! formed partnerships with telecommunications and Internet providers to create content-rich broadband services to compete with AOL. On 3 June 2002, SBC and Yahoo! launched a national co-branded dial service. [11] In July 2003, BT Openworld announced an alliance with Yahoo![12] On 23 August 2005, Yahoo! and Verizon launched an integrated DSL service.[13]

In late 2002, Yahoo! began to bolster its search services by acquiring other search engines. In December 2002, Yahoo! acquired Inktomi, and in July 2003, it acquired Overture Services, Inc. and its subsidiaries AltaVista and AlltheWeb. On February 18, 2004, Yahoo! dropped Google-powered results and returned to using its own technology to provide search results.

Google then released Gmail, its webmail service offering 1 GB of storage, on 1 April 2004. Yahoo! responded by upgrading the storage of all free Yahoo! Mail accounts from 4 MB to 100 MB, and all Yahoo! Mail Plus accounts to 2 GB. On 9 July 2004, Yahoo! acquired e-mail provider Oddpost to add an Ajax interface to Yahoo! Mail Beta. Google also released Google Talk, a Voice over IP and instant messaging service, on 24 August 2005. On 13 October 2005, Yahoo! and Microsoft announced that Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger would become interoperable.

Yahoo! continued acquiring companies to expand its range of services, particularly Web 2.0 services. Yahoo! Launch became Yahoo! Music on 9 February 2005. On 20 March 2005, Yahoo! purchased photo sharing service Flickr. [14] On 29 March 2005, the company launched its blogging and social networking service Yahoo! 360°.[15] In June 2005, Yahoo! acquired blo.gs, a service based on RSS feed aggregation. Yahoo! then bought online social event calendar Upcoming.org on 4 October 2005. Yahoo! acquired social bookmark site del.icio.us on 9 December 2005 and then playlist sharing community webjay on 9 January 2006.

The future (2006-)

Yahoo! Next is an incubation ground for future Yahoo! technologies currently in their beta testing phase, similar to Google Labs. It contains forums for Yahoo! users to give feedback to assist in the development of these future Yahoo! technologies.

In early 2006, Yahoo! offered users the chance to beta test a new version of the Yahoo! homepage. However, it currently only supports Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Users of other browsers, such as Opera, have criticised Yahoo! for this move. Yahoo! says they intend to support additional browsers in the future.

In February 2008, Microsoft Corporation made an unsolicited bid to acquire Yahoo! for US$44.6 billion. Yahoo! subsequently formally rejected the bid, claiming that it "substantially undervalues" Yahoo! and was not in the interest of its shareholders.[16]


  1. Yahoo! Media Relations
  2. AmericanHeritage.com / Inventing Yahoo!
  3. A Rose By Any Other Name | BPWrap
  4. Yahoo Acquiring Yoyodyne
  5. Enterprise News for IT Managers
  6. BBC News | SCI/TECH | Yahoo attack exposes web weakness
  7. How a basic attack crippled Yahoo | CNET News.com
  8. Yahoo to Buy EBay?
  9. [1][dead link]
  10. GoogleAlert #2: Yahoo! Selects Google as its Default Search Engine Provider
  11. AT&T- News Room
  12. http://www.groupbt.com/News/Articles/ShowArticle.cfm?ArticleID=fa2aec1b-0336-4b33-8d7e-85900c10ea33
  13. Verizon and Yahoo! Launch Integrated DSL Service Combining Broadband Speed with Premium Content
  14. Yahoo actually does acquire Flickr « Flickr Blog
  15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahoo%21_360%C2%BA
  16. "Yahoo rejects Microsoft approach". BBC News Online. 2008-02-11. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7239220.stm. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
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