One of the men who etched their names in the hall of entrepreneurs is Jerry Yang. He 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. Jerry Yang was cited by BusinessWeek as one of “The 25 Most Influential Men on the Web.” Yang was also listed by Forbes as the 140th in the list of “The 400 Richest Americans” 2006.
Jerry Yang is a Taiwanese who was raised in San Jose, California. He was born on November 6, 1968 in Taipei. Yang’s father died when he was just two years old, so he was solely raised by his mother who was an English teacher. When he was eight, he moved with his family to California. It was probably not easy for this young boy to adapt to his new surroundings with only a single English word (shoe) on his vocabulary. Still, Yang proved to be a genius even at an early age when he was able to master the English language just after three years. He was even put into an AP (Advanced Placement) English class, a program that offers college level courses to high school. Jerry Yang finished in Sierramont Middle School and Piedmont Hills High School. He had his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering at Stanford. Yang is married to Akiko Yamazaki, who is also an alumna of Stanford University.
Entrepreneur in the making
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 for Italy, 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. Because of this, Yang and Filo created their own website that contains various other websites in 1994. This was called “David and Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” They organized the sites into different categories and later into subcategories for easier searching. The name was changed to “Yahoo!.” Thousands have been visiting the site just few months after it was created. The then giant AOL company offered a buyout, but the two refused saying that their creation was done for fun and enjoyment and not for money. Later, the two 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.
Jerry Yang played a major role in running the company, which he co-founded with Filo. As a former CEO, he played a great part in the company’s development and implementation of business strategy, vision, and international ventures. In January 13, 2009, he was replaced by Carol Bartz as the new chief executive. Although no longer the CEO, Yang is still a member of the company’s board of directors. The reign of Yang as 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.
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 really a brilliant entrepreneur. Currently, Yang is part of the Board of Directors of Alibaba, Cisco, the Asian Pacific Fund, and Yahoo! Japan and also a member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees.