Yahoo! was founded by Jerry Yang and David Filo in January 1994 and was incorporated on March 2, 1995. Yahoo was one of the pioneers of the early Internet era in the 1990s. In 2000, it was the most popular website. Usage slowly declined as it lost market share to Google. However, Yahoo domain websites are still among the most popular websites, ranking 11th in global engagement according to Alexa Internet and 10th according to SimilarWeb.
The Yahoo home page in 1994, when it was a directory. A search function was added in 1995.
In January 1994, Yang and Filo were electrical engineering graduate students at Stanford University, when they created a website named "Jerry and David's guide to the World Wide Web". The site was a directory of other websites, organized in a hierarchy, as opposed to a searchable index of pages. In March 1994, "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web" was renamed "Yahoo!". The human-edited Yahoo! Directory, provided for users to surf through the Internet, became their first product and the company's original purpose. The "yahoo.com" domain was created on January 18, 1995.
The word "yahoo" is a backronym for "Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle" or "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" (used by college students in David Filo's native Louisiana in the late 1980s and early 1990s to refer to an unsophisticated, rural Southerner): "rude, unsophisticated, uncouth." This meaning derives from the Yahoo race of fictional beings from Gulliver's Travels.
Yahoo grew rapidly throughout the 1990s. Yahoo became a public company via an initial public offering in April 1996 and its stock price rose 600% within two years. Like many search engines and web directories, Yahoo added a web portal, putting it in competition with services like Excite, Lycos and America Online. By 1998, Yahoo was the most popular starting point for web users, and the human-edited Yahoo Directory the most popular search engine, receiving 95 million page views per day which was triple the number compared to rival Excite. It also made many high-profile acquisitions. Yahoo began offering free e-mail from October 1997 after the acquisition of RocketMail, which was then renamed to Yahoo! Mail. In 1998, Yahoo decided to replace AltaVista as the crawler-based search engine underlying the Directory with Inktomi. Yahoo's two biggest acquisitions were made in 1999 - that of Geocities for $3.6 billion, and Broadcast.com for $5.7 billion.
Its stock price skyrocketed during the dot-com bubble, closing at an all-time high of $118.75/share on January 3, 2000. However, after the dot-com bubble burst, it reached a post-bubble low of $8.11 on September 26, 2001.
Yahoo headquarters in 2001
Yahoo began using Google for search in June 2000. Over the next four years, it developed its own search technologies, which it began using in 2004 partly using technology from its $280 million acquisition of Inktomi in 2002. In response to Google's Gmail, Yahoo began to offer unlimited email storage in 2007. The company struggled through 2008, with several large layoffs.
In February 2008, Microsoft made an unsolicited bid to acquire Yahoo! for $44.6 billion. Yahoo formally rejected the bid, claiming that it "substantially undervalues" the company and was not in the interest of its shareholders. By 2011, Yahoo had a market capitalization of $22.24 billion (only half of what it had been offered by Microsoft three years earlier).Carol Bartz replaced Yang as CEO in January 2009. In September 2011, she was removed from her position at Yahoo by the company's chairman Roy Bostock, and CFO Tim Morse was named as Interim CEO of the company.
In early 2012, after the appointment of Scott Thompson as CEO, rumors began to spread about looming layoffs. Several key executives left, including Chief Product Officer Blake Irving. On April 4, 2012, Yahoo announced a cut of 2,000 jobs, or about 14 percent of its 14,100 workers. The cut was expected to save around $375 million annually after the layoffs were completed at end of 2012. In an email sent to employees in April 2012, Thompson reiterated his view that customers should come first at Yahoo. He also completely reorganized the company.
On May 13, 2012, Yahoo issued a press release stating that Thompson was no longer with the company, and would immediately be replaced on an interim basis by Ross Levinsohn, recently appointed head of Yahoo's new Media group. Thompson's total compensation for his 130-day tenure with Yahoo was at least $7.3 million.
On July 15, 2012, Marissa Mayer was appointed president and CEO of Yahoo, effective July 17, 2012.
On May 19, 2013 Yahoo! announced the $1.1 billion acquisition of blogging site Tumblr. Tumblr's CEO and founder David Karp became a large shareholder. The announcement reportedly signified a changing trend in the technology industry, as large corporations like Yahoo, Facebook, and Google acquired start-up Internet companies that generated low amounts of revenue as a way in which to connect with sizeable, fast-growing online communities. The Wall Street Journal stated that the purchase of Tumblr would satisfy Yahoo's need for "a thriving social-networking and communications hub." The company also announced plans to open a San Francisco office in July 2013.
On August 2, 2013, Yahoo acquired Rockmelt; its staff was retained, but all of its existing products were terminated.
Data collated by comScore during July 2013 revealed that more people in the U.S. visited Yahoo websites during the month than Google; the occasion was the first time that Yahoo outperformed Google since 2011. The data did not count mobile usage, nor Tumblr.
On November 21, 2014, it was announced that Yahoo had acquired Cooliris.
Decline, security breaches, and Verizon purchase
By the fourth quarter of 2013, the company's share price had more than doubled since Marissa Mayer took over as president in July 2012; however, the share price peaked at about $35 in November 2013. It did go up to $36.04 in the mid-afternoon of December 2, 2015, perhaps on news that the board of directors was meeting to decide on the future of Mayer, whether to sell the struggling Internet business, and whether to continue with the spinoff of its stake in China's Alibaba e-commerce site. Not all had gone well during Mayer's tenure, including the $1.1 billion acquisition of Tumblr that had yet to prove beneficial and the forays into original video content that led to a $42 million write-down. Sydney Finkelstein, a professor at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business, told The Washington Post that sometimes, "the single best thing you can do ... is sell the company."
On February 2, 2016, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer annoyed layoffs amounting to 15% of its workforce.
On September 22, 2016, Yahoo disclosed a data breach that occurred in late 2014, in which information associated with at least 500 million user accounts, one of the largest breaches reported to date. The United States have indicted four men, including two employees of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), for their involvement in the hack. On December 14, 2016, the company revealed that another separate data breach had occurred in 2014, with hackers obtaining sensitive account information, including security questions, to at least one billion accounts. The company stated that hackers had utilized stolen internal software to forge HTTP cookies.
In response to these breaches, Bloomberg News reported that Verizon was attempting to re-negotiate the deal to reduce the purchase price by $250 million, causing a 2% increase in Yahoo stock prices. On February 21, 2017, Verizon agreed to lower its purchase price for Yahoo by $350 million, and share liabilities regarding the investigation into the data breaches.
On June 8, 2017, Yahoo shareholders approved the company's sale of some of its Internet assets to Verizon for $4.48 billion. The deal officially closed on June 13, 2017.
In a press release from October 3, 2017, Oath Inc., a subsidiary of Verizon, stated that all Yahoo user accounts, some 3 billion, were affected by the August 2013 theft.
Former chief operating officer Henrique de Castro departed from the company in January 2014 after Mayer, who initially hired him after her appointment as CEO, dismissed him. De Castro, who previously worked for Google and McKinsey & Company, was employed to revive Yahoo's advertising business.
Products and services
The 2015 Dublin LGBTQ Pride Festival, sponsored by Yahoo
A Yahoo-branded PC keyboard
Map showing localized versions of Yahoo! web portals, as of 2008
Yahoo introduced its Internet search system, called OneSearch, for mobile phones on March 20, 2007. The results include news headlines, images from Flickr, business listings, local weather and links to other sites. Instead of showing only, for example, popular movies or some critical reviews, OneSearch lists local theaters that at the moment are playing the movie, along with user ratings and news headlines regarding the movie. A ZIP Code or city name is required for OneSearch to start delivering local search results. The results of a Web search are listed on a single page and are prioritized into categories. As of 2012, Yahoo used Novarra's mobile content transcoding service for OneSearch.
Yahoo offers shopping services such as Yahoo Shopping, Yahoo Autos, Yahoo Real Estate and Yahoo Travel, which enables users to gather relevant information and make commercial transactions and purchases online. Yahoo Auctions were discontinued in 2007 except for Asia. Yahoo Shopping is a price comparison service.
Yahoo! Gemini provides services such as Sponsored Search, Local Advertising and Product/Travel/Directory Submit that let different businesses advertise their products and services on the Yahoo network.
Following the closure of a "beta" version on April 30, 2010, the Yahoo! Publisher Network was relaunched as an advertising tool that allows online publishers to monetize their websites through the use of site-relevant advertisements.
Yahoo launched its Panama Internet advertisement sales system in the fourth quarter of 2006. It allows advertisers to bid for search terms to trigger their ads on search results pages. The system considers bids, ad quality, clickthrough rates and other factors in ranking ads. Through Panama, Yahoo aims to provide more relevant search results to users, a better overall experience, and to increase monetization.
On April 7, 2008, Yahoo announced APT from Yahoo, which was originally called AMP from Yahoo, an online advertising management platform. The platform simplifies advertising sales by unifying buyer and seller markets. The service was launched in September 2008.
In July 2009, Yahoo agreed to use Microsoft as exclusive technology provider for its search services while Microsoft provided contextual advertising to Yahoo on a non-exclusive basis. Yahoo was the exclusive worldwide relationship sales force for Yahoo's and Microsoft's premium search advertisers. In September 2011, Yahoo formed an ad selling strategic partnership with two of its top competitors, AOL and Microsoft. But by 2013 this was found to be underperforming in market share and revenue, as Microsoft simply skimmed off four percent of the search market from Yahoo, without growing their combined share.
Y!Connect enables individuals to leave comments in online publication boards by using their Yahoo ID, instead of having to register with individual publications. The Wall Street Journal reported that Yahoo plans to mimic this strategy used by rival Facebook Inc. to help drive traffic to its site.
Yahoo has invested resources to increase and improve access to the Internet for the disabled community through the Yahoo Accessibility Lab.
Kelkoo Group is a European price comparison tool that was acquired by Yahoo! in 2004 and sold in 2008.
Yahoo! Next was an incubation ground for future Yahoo technologies currently undergoing testing. It contained Internet forums for Yahoo users to give feedback to assist in the development of these future Yahoo technologies.
Yahoo! Search BOSS was a service that allows developers to build search applications based on Yahoo's search technology. Early Partners in the program include Hakia, Me.dium, Delver, Daylife and Yebol. In early 2011, the program switched to a paid model using a cost-per-query model from $0.40 to $0.75 cost per mille (cost per 1000 BOSS queries). The price, as Yahoo explained, depends on whether the query is of web, image, news or other information. It became defunct in 2016 and has been replaced by Yahoo Partner Ads.
Yahoo SearchMonkey (often misspelled Search Monkey) was a Yahoo service that allowed developers and site owners to use structured data to make Yahoo Search results more useful and visually appealing, and drive more relevant traffic to their sites. The service was shut down in October 2010 along with other Yahoo services as part of the Microsoft and Yahoo search deal. The name SearchMonkey is an homage to Greasemonkey. Officially the product name has no space and two capital letters. Yahoo SearchMonkey was selected as one of the top 10 Semantic Web Products of 2008.
On March 31, 2008, Yahoo launched Shine, a site tailored for women seeking online information and advice between the ages of 25 and 54. It was shut down in 2014.
Yahoo! Axis was a desktop web browser extension and mobile browser for iOS devices created and developed by Yahoo. The extension made its public debut on May 23, 2012 and retired June 28, 2013. A copy of the private key used to sign official Yahoo browser extensions for Google Chrome was accidentally leaked in the first public release of the Chrome extension.
Geocities was a popular web hosting service founded in 1995 and was one of the first services to offer web pages to the public. At one point it was the third-most-browsed site on the World Wide Web. Yahoo purchased GeoCities in 1999 and ten years later the web host was closed, deleting some seven million web pages. A great deal of information was lost but many of those sites and pages were mirrored at the Internet Archive, OOcities.com, and other such databases.
Yahoo Go, a Java-based phone application with access to most of Yahoo services, was closed on January 12, 2010.
Yahoo 360° was a blogging/social networking beta service launched in March 2005 by Yahoo and closed on July 13, 2009. Yahoo Mash beta was another social service closed after one year of operation prior to leaving beta status. On October 16, 2007, Yahoo announced that it would discontinue Yahoo 360°, including bug repairs; the company explained that in 2008 it would instead establish a "universal profile" similar to the Yahoo Mash experimental system.
Yahoo Photos was shut down on September 20, 2007, in favor of integration with Flickr. Yahoo Tech was a website that provided product information and setup advice to users. Yahoo launched the website in May 2006. On March 11, 2010, Yahoo closed down the service and redirected users to Yahoo's technology news section. Other discontinued services include Farechase, My Web, Audio Search, Pets, Live, Kickstart, Briefcase, and Yahoo for Teachers.
Yahoo Koprol was an Indonesian geo-tagging website that allowed users to share information about locations without the use of a GPS device. Koprol was acquired by Yahoo a year following its inception and, in 2011, 1.5 million people were utilizing the website, with users also based in Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam. However, eighty percent of users were Indonesian. Yahoo officially discontinued Koprol on August 28, 2012 because it did "not meaningfully drive revenue or engagement".
In June 2013, the company shut down Yahoo! Mail Classic. All users of Mail Classic were required to switch to the new Yahoo Mail, use IMAP, or switch to another email service.
April 2013 brought the closure of Upcoming, Yahoo Deals, Yahoo SMS Alerts, Yahoo Kids, Yahoo Mail and Messenger feature phone (J2ME).
In early July 2013, Yahoo announced the scheduled closure of the task management service Astrid. Yahoo had acquired the company in May 2013 and was to discontinue the service on August 5, 2013. The team at Astrid has supplied its customers with a data export tool and recommended former competitors such as Wunderlist and Sandglaz.
On October 14, 2020, Yahoo's parent company Verizon Media announced that Yahoo! Groups will be shut down on December 15, 2020 due to "a steady decline in usage over the last several years."
On December 15, 2010, one day after Yahoo announced layoffs of 4% of its workers across their portfolio, MyBlogLog founder Eric Marcoullier posted a slide from a Yahoo employee on Twitter. The slide was visible during an employee-only strategy webcast indicating changes in Yahoo's offerings. The following services were in a column under "Sunset": Yahoo Picks, AltaVista, MyM, AlltheWeb, Yahoo Bookmarks, Yahoo Buzz, del.icio.us, and MyBlogLog. Under the "Merge" column were: Upcoming, FoxyTunes, Yahoo Events, Yahoo People Search, Sideline, and FireEagle. 11 other properties were listed that Yahoo was interested in developing into feature sites within the portal to take the place of the "Sunset" and "Merge" vacancies, including the prior feature services (before the new Yahoo Mail was launched), where Yahoo Address Book, Calendar, and Notepad. Despite Notepad being listed as a feature service instead of sunset or merge in 2010, Yahoo has since taken steps to de-emphasize Notepad. For example, in January 2013, Notepad was no longer linked within the new Yahoo mail service, although it continued to be linked in the older Classic version. Also, starting in mid-to late January 2013, Notepad was no longer searchable. The blog on the del.icio.us website released a post by Chris Yeh after the slide was leaked in which Yeh stated that "Sunset" doesn't necessarily mean that Yahoo is closing down the site. Yeh further explained that other possibilities--including del.icio.us leaving Yahoo (through sale or spinoff)--were still being considered: "We can only imagine how upsetting the news coverage over the past 24 hours has been to many of you. Speaking for our team, we were very disappointed by the way that this appeared in the press." On April 27, 2011, Yahoo's sale of del.icio.us to Avos was announced.
Yahoo Buzz was closed down on April 21, 2011 without an official announcement from Yahoo. MyBlogLog was then discontinued by Yahoo on May 24, 2011.
In September 2013, Yahoo's transparency report said the company received 29 thousand requests for information about users from governments in the first six months of 2013. Over 12 thousand of the requests came from the United States.
In October 2013, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. National Security Agency intercepted communications between Yahoo's data centers, as part of a program named Muscular.
In late January 2014, Yahoo announced on its company blog that it had detected a "coordinated effort" to hack into possibly millions of Yahoo Mail accounts. The company prompted users to reset their passwords, but did not elaborate on the scope of the possible breach, citing an ongoing federal investigation.
In August 2015, researchers at Malwarebytes, notified Yahoo about its users getting hacked because of vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player. According to them, the vulnerability could allow attackers to install "ransomware" on users' computers and lock their files till the customers pay the criminals.
Storing personal information and tracking usage
Yahoo! Kimo (Taiwan) Open Hack Day event in 2008
This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(June 2012)
Working with comScore, The New York Times found that Yahoo was able to collect far more data about users than its competitors from its Web sites and advertising network. By one measure, on average Yahoo had the potential in December 2007 to build a profile of 2,500 records per month about each of its visitors. Yahoo retains search requests for a period of 13 months. However, in response to European regulators, Yahoo obfuscates the IP address of users after three months by deleting its last eight bits.
On March 29, 2012, Yahoo announced that it would introduce a "Do Not Track" feature that summer, allowing users to opt out of Web-visit tracking and customized advertisements. However, on April 30, 2014, Yahoo announced that it would no longer support the "Do Not Track" browser setting.
According to a 2008 article in Computerworld, Yahoo has a 2-petabyte, specially built data warehouse that it uses to analyze the behavior of its half-billion Web visitors per month, processing 24 billion daily events. In contrast, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) database of all United States taxpayers is only 150 terabytes.
In September 2016, it was reported that data from at least 500 million Yahoo accounts was stolen in 2014.
In October 2016, Reuters reported that in 2015, Yahoo created software to search their customers' e-mail at the request of NSA or FBI.
In 2000, in the case of LICRA v. Yahoo Yahoo was sued by parties seeking to prevent French citizens from purchasing memorabilia relating to the Nazi Party. In March 2004, Yahoo launched a paid inclusion program whereby commercial websites were guaranteed listings on the Yahoo search engine. Yahoo discontinued the program at the end of 2009. Yahoo was criticized for providing ads via the Yahoo ad network to companies who display them through spyware and adware.
Yahoo, as well as other search engines, cooperated with the Chinese government to support Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China. In April 2005, dissident Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison for "providing state secrets to foreign entities" as a result of being identified by IP address by Yahoo. Human rights organizations and the company's general counsel disputed the extent of Yahoo's foreknowledge of Shi's fate. Human rights groups also accuse Yahoo of aiding authorities in the arrest of dissidents Li Zhi and Jiang Lijun. In April 2017, Yahoo was sued for failing to uphold settlement agreements in this case. Yahoo pledged to give support to the families of those arrested and create a relief fund for those persecuted for expressing their views online with Yahoo Human Rights Trust. Of the $17.3 million allotted to this fund, $13 million had been used for a townhouse in Washington, DC and other purchases.
In September 2003, dissident Wang Xiaoning was convicted of charges of "incitement to subvert state power" and was sentenced to ten years in prison. Yahoo Hong Kong connected Wang's group to a specific Yahoo e-mail address. Both Xiaoning's wife and the World Organization for Human Rights sued Yahoo under human rights laws on behalf of Wang and Shi.
As a result of media scrutiny relating to Internet child predators and a lack of significant ad revenues, Yahoo's "user created" chatrooms were closed down in June 2005. On May 25, 2006, Yahoo's image search was criticized for bringing up sexually explicit images even when SafeSearch was active. In August 2015, Yahoo purchased a 40% (23% in September 2013) owner of Alibaba Group, which was a subject of controversy for allowing the sale of shark-derived products. The company banned the sale of shark fin products on all its e-commerce platforms effective January 1, 2009. On November 30, 2009, Yahoo was criticized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for sending a DMCA notice to whistle-blower website "Cryptome" for publicly posting details, prices, and procedures on obtaining private information pertaining to Yahoo's subscribers.
After some concerns over censorship of private emails regarding a website affiliated with Occupy Wall Street protests were raised, Yahoo responded with an apology and explained it as an accident.
Following media reports about PRISM, NSA's massive electronic surveillance program, in June 2013, several technology companies were identified as participants, including Yahoo.
Yahoo offers a multi-lingual interface. The site is available in over 20 languages. The official directory for all of the Yahoo International sites is world.yahoo.com. The company's international sites are wholly owned by Yahoo, with the exception of its Japan and China sites.
Yahoo used to hold a 40% stake and 35% voting power in Alibaba, which manages a web portal in China using the Yahoo brand name, Yahoo! China. On September 18, 2012, following years of negotiations, Yahoo agreed to sell a 20% stake back to Alibaba for $7.6 billion.
Yahoo entered the MENA region when it acquired Maktoob, a pan-regional, Arabic-language hosting and social services online portal on August 25, 2009. Since the service is pan-regional, Yahoo officially became Yahoo Maktoob in the region.
On September 2, 2013, Yahoo! China shut down and was redirected to taobao.com, and has been being redirected to Yahoo Singapore's search page.
Yahoo! Korea was the South Korean affiliate of Yahoo!, founded in September 1997. Its headquarters was the Yahoo! Tower on Teheranno in the Gangnam District of Seoul. On December 31, 2012, Yahoo! Korea shut down all its services and the website was redirected to the main Yahoo! search page.
Logos and themes
Wordmark used from January 1, 1996 to September 4, 2013 (shown: purple variant used from 2009); red version still used by Yahoo! Japan
Y! moniker (2009-2013)
Yahoo sign with address at its headquarters
Yahoo got its first logo during its establishment in 1994--it consists of the "Yahoo" wordmark which is colored black and is using the Times New Roman font, but it was later changed.
In March 1995, when the company changed its name to Yahoo, it introduced another logo which is briefly changed to a more elaborate text that includes an exclamation point at the end, but it were short-lived for only 5 months.
Later, in August 1995, that same year, Yahoo changed its logo again and it became a stylized yellow jumping "Y" figurine on a blue circle while the "Yahoo!" wordmark is written below, but the logo were also short-lived for 4 months until December 1995.
On January 1, 1996, Yahoo introduced a simplified new logo that included the text "Yahoo" and an exclamation mark, both in red with a slight shadow behind the text. By May 2009, Yahoo tweaked the logo by recoloring it from red to purple and removing the logo's outline and shadow. At the time, the purple logo was accompanied by a new slogan, "It's Y!ou." A shortened variant of the logo, consisting of only the letter "Y" and an exclamation point, was also used.
On August 7, 2013, at around midnight EDT, Yahoo announced that the final version of the new logo would be revealed on September 5, 2013 at 4:00 a.m. UTC. In the period leading up to the unveiling of the new logo, the "30 Days of Change" campaign was introduced, whereby a variation of the logo was published every day for the 30 days following the announcement. The new logo was eventually launched with an accompanying video that showed its digital construction, and Mayer published a personalized description of the design process on her Tumblr page. Mayer explains:
So, one weekend this summer, I rolled up my sleeves and dove into the trenches with our logo design team ... We spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday designing the logo from start to finish, and we had a ton of fun weighing every minute detail. We knew we wanted a logo that reflected Yahoo - whimsical, yet sophisticated. Modern and fresh, with a nod to our history. Having a human touch, personal. Proud.
On September 19, 2013, Yahoo launched a new version of the "My Yahoo" personalized homepage. The redesign allows users to tailor a homepage with widgets that access features such as email accounts, calendars, Flickr and other Yahoo content, and Internet content. Users can also select "theme packs" that represent artists such as Polly Apfelbaum and Alec Monopoly, and bands such as Empire of the Sun. Mayer then explained at a conference in late September 2013 that the logo change was the result of feedback from both external parties and employees.
In September 2019 saw another logo change for Yahoo, which the company claims is a "refreshed brand identity [that] is simpler and more flexible, and looks back to the original, quirky 1996 logo." The logo is a white text set against a purple background, with both the "y" and "!" of the logo reportedly set at an angle of 22.5 degrees.
Yahoo's fourth logo, January 1996-September 2013
Yahoo's fifth and previous logo, September 2013-September 2019
Yahoo's sixth and current logo, September 2019-present
^Rossiter, Jay (June 28, 2013). "Keeping our Focus on What's Next". Yahoo Tumblr Blog. Yahoo. Retrieved 2019. If you installed the browser plug-in, it will no longer work. If you downloaded the app, it will continue to work, but won't be actively maintained.