Who is Jerry Yang?
Jerry Yang is a Taiwanese-American internet entrepreneur, best known as the co-founder, and the former CEO of ‘Yahoo! Inc.’ Born in Taiwan, his family moved to United States when he was ten and he learned to speak the English language in the following years. Later, he completed his graduation as well as post-graduation in electrical engineering and applied for his doctoral degree. While studying for his PhD, he met David Filo, his office partner, and soon they both became hooked to the Internet which was newly introduced at the time. While surfing, they identified the complexity in locating the required websites over the internet and developed software to overcome this problem. Originally they created a website to provide for a way to organize the maze of internet addresses on the World Wide Web, which later transformed into a multi-billion corporation. Soon, the website’s immense popularity encouraged them to establish ‘Yahoo! Inc.’, which gradually became a successful provider of Internet and Web-based services. He served as the ‘Chief Yahoo’ of the company for over a decade and played a key role in managing and developing the company’s business policies, also serving as head of several other corporations.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Jerry Chih-Yuan Yang, on November 6, 1968, in Taipei, Taiwan. When he was two, his father died. At the age of ten, he moved to San Jose, California, with his mother, Lily, and younger brother, Ken.
Although his mother served as an English teacher, he could only speak Chinese and was very weak in English. He was placed into an Advanced Placement English class where he learned and mastered the language.
Later he was admitted to the Sierramont Middle School and Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose, from where he received his early education. He then went to the Stanford University and simultaneously earned a bachelor’s as well as master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1990.
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While studying for his doctorate, he met David Filo, with whom he shared an office at the Stanford University. At that time, the Internet had just been introduced, and both the young men soon became hooked to the new technology and often spent hours surfing on the net.
Gradually they realized that it was difficult to navigate on the web because it was a mishmash of uncategorized data. To overcome this problem, they designed software that organized the web pages by subject, and launched their own website, called "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web."
Within months the site was attracting thousands of people who were looking for a way to locate their favorite web pages. Because the site was visited so often, they decided to change the site name to something a little simpler and fun, renaming it to “Yahoo”.
Although they received offers for selling the company, the duo retained ownership of their creation, and continued to work to make Yahoo an even better search engine. In 1995, the pair was offered financial backing to start their own company.
Realizing the worth and importance of their creation, they dropped their studies six months away from finishing their doctoral theses, and instead incorporated ‘Yahoo! Inc.’ in March 1995.
In 1996, the company went public; its stock was offered for sale to the public for the first time and the duo became instant millionaires. He served as the company’s ‘Chief Yahoo’ from March 1995 to January 2012 and its C.E.O. from 2007 to 2009.
From 2000 to 2012, he also served as an ‘Independent Director’ of ‘Cisco Systems’. In 2007, he established the ‘Yahoo! Human Rights Fund’, a fund to provide "humanitarian and legal support" to online dissidents.
After resigning from the board of directors at Yahoo! in 2012, he founded ‘AME Cloud Ventures’, an investing company. Since its creation, the firm has provided funding to more than 50 startups including ‘Tango’, ‘Evernote’, ‘Wattpad’.
Since November 2013, he has been an Independent Director of ‘Workday, Inc’. He also serves as an Independent Director of ‘Alibaba Group Holding Limited’.
Since November 2014, he has been an Independent Non-Executive Director of Lenovo Group Limited. He also serves on the board of trustees of Stanford University.
He has also served as Director of various other corporations such as ‘InfoGear Technology Corporation’, ‘American Internet Corporation’, ‘PipeLinks Inc.’, ‘ZDNet Inc.’, ‘Growth Networks Inc.’ and ‘Combinet Inc.’
His most significant and greatest work is that of co-founding the ‘Yahoo! Inc.’ which started off as a “web portal with a web dictionary” and evolved into a website that provides an extensive range of products and services for online activities. At present, ‘Yahoo!’ is one of the leading Internet brands and is one of the most visited sites on the Internet.
Awards & Achievements
In 1999, at the MIT Technology Review TR100, he was named one of the top 100 innovators in the world, under the age of 35
He is listed in the “25 Most Influential men on the Web”
Personal Life & Legacy
He is married to Akiko Yamazaki, a Japanese woman, who he met while studying at Stanford University, in the Kyoto overseas program in 1992. Akiko has a degree in industrial engineering and is a director with the Wildlife Conservation Network.