The Hierarchy in the Internet Media Industry by Jerry Yang

Jerry Yang

"We look at our users' interests, without our users we don't have business."

- Jerry Yang

One of the men who carved their names in the hall of entrepreneurs is Jerry Yang. Born in Taiwan and raised in Silicon Valley, self-made man Jerry Yang created the Yahoo! navigational guide together with David Filo in 1994, and co-founded the Yahoo! Inc the following year.

Yahoo! is one of the leading internet brands, with the most traffic networks on the internet for years. Jerry Yang was cited as one of "The 25 Most Influential Men on the Web." Yang was also listed by Forbes as the #140 in the list of "The 400 Richest Americans" in the year 2006.

Early Life

Jerry Yang (traditional Chinese: 楊致遠; simplified Chinese: 杨致远; pinyin: Yáng Zhìyuǎn) was born on November 6th, 1968, in Taipei, Taiwan. Yang with his mother and younger brother moved to San Jose, California at the age of ten. Despite his mother being an English teacher, it wasn't easy for Yang to adapt to the new environment with only a single English word (shoe) on his vocabulary. However, Yang was able to master the English language just after three years, and was even put into an AP (Advanced Placement) English class, a program that offers college level courses to high school. Yang’s father died when he was just 2 years old.

Yang graduated from Sierramont Middle School and Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Stanford University, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.


While studying Electrical Engineering at Stanford, Jerry Yang and David Filo teamed up to create computer chips with the use of computer-aided design. But when their supervisor left, and to their dismay, they put aside their project and instead surfed and experimented with the web. Back then, searching the web is similar to searching the library, which proved to be quite tedious. In April 1994, Yang and David Flo created a website called "Jerry and Dave's Guide to the World Wide Web" that consisted of a directory of other websites.

The site they made organized other sites into lists of different categories, and later into subcategories for easier searching. It was renamed "Yahoo!". The word "yahoo" is an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle" The term "hierarchical" described how the Yahoo database was arranged in layers of subcategories. The term "oracle" was intended to mean "source of truth and wisdom," and the term "officious," rather than being related to the word's normal meaning, described the many office workers who would use the Yahoo database while surfing from work. However, Filo and Yang insist they mainly selected the name because they liked the slang definition of a "yahoo".

Yahoo! became very popular as thousands have been visiting the site just few months after it was created. Throughout the 1990s, Yahoo!'s growth grew rapidly and exponentially. Like many search engines and web directories, Yahoo! added a web portal. At this time, Yang and Filo leaves of absence and postponed their doctoral programs indefinitely

The then giant AOL company offered a buyout, but the two refused saying that their creation was done for fun and enjoyment and not at all for money. But later, as the two realized the business potential and co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in April 1995, they decided to make a profit out of their invention. They found an investor in the likes of Mike Moritz. With the $1 million investment by Moritz, Yang and Filo hired some colleagues and established businessmen to start their own business. Just a year after its creation, Yahoo! became one of the most successful online companies.

From June 2007, Yang took the place of CEO before being replaced by Carol Bartz as the new chief executive in January 13, 2009.

Yang played a major role in running the company. After stepping down from being the CEO of Yahoo!, Yang that is still a member of the company's Board of Directors, played a great part in the company’s development and implementation of business strategy, vision, and international ventures.Yang's influence when he was CEO was scrutinized by various businessmen for failing to increase the stock price of Yahoo!. He was also criticized by other shareholders for his refusal to accept a deal with Microsoft and the arrest of several journalists that brought a civil suit against Yahoo!.

Yahoo! started off as a web portal with a web directory providing an extensive range of products and services for online activities. It is now one of the leading internet brands and, due to partnerships with telecommunications firms, has the most trafficked network on the internet. In 1999, Yang was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.

On January 17, 2012, Yahoo! announced that Jerry Yang will be leaving the company, and will be resigning from the board and all other positions at the company. The company also announced his resignation from the boards of Yahoo! Japan and Alibaba Corp.

Other Ventures

Jerry Yang has been a Director of Cisco Systems, Inc. since July 2000. He is on the Stanford University Board of Trustees and serves as a Director of DotCloud, Inc.

Yang also served as a Director of Ziff-Davis Inc., a Director of InfoGear Technology Corporation, a Director of American Internet Corporation, PipeLinks, Inc., ZDNet, Inc., Growth Networks, Inc. and Combinet, Inc.

Personal Life, Wealth and Philanthropy

Jerry Yang is married to Akiko Yamazaki, a Japanese woman who was raised in Costa Rica and also an alumna of Stanford University with a degree in industrial engineering. She is a director with the Wildlife Conservation Network. Yang first met his future wife in 1992 in Kyoto, when they were both students in Stanford’s overseas.

Despite all the issues that followed the career of Jerry Yang as a businessman, his contribution to the internet media industry only proves that he is a brilliant entrepreneur. In 2008, Yang landed at #524 on Forbes’ list of world billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $2.3 billion. He also serves on the board of directors for Yahoo!, Cisco Systems, Yahoo! Japan, and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., as well as serving on the Stanford University Board of Trustees.

With his success, in 2007, Jerry Yang and his wife pledged $75 million toward a new environmental building on the campus of his alma mater, Stanford University.