According to Web traffic analysis companies (including Compete.com, comScore, Alexa Internet, Netcraft, and Nielsen Ratings), the domain yahoo.com attracted at least 1.575 billion visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study. The global network of Yahoo! websites receives 3.4 billion page views per day on average as of October 2007. It is the second most visited website in the U.S., and the most visited website in the world.
In January 1994, Jerry Yang and David Filo were Electrical Engineering graduate students at Stanford University. In April 1994, "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web" was renamed "Yahoo!", for which the official expansion is "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle". Filo and Yang said they selected the name because they liked the word's general definition, which comes from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift: "rude, unsophisticated, uncouth." Its URL was akebono.stanford.edu/yahoo.
By the end of 1994, Yahoo! had already received one million hits. The Yahoo! domain was created on January 18, 1995. Yang and Filo realized their website had massive business potential, and on March 1, 1995, Yahoo! was incorporated. On April 5, 1995, Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital provided Yahoo! with two rounds of venture capital, raising approximately $3 million. On April 12, 1996, Yahoo! had its initial public offering, raising $33.8 million dollars, by selling 2.6 million shares at $13 each.
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 March 8, 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 October 12. On March 8, 1998, Yahoo! launched Yahoo! Pager, an instant messaging service that was renamed Yahoo! Messenger a year later. On January 28, 1999, Yahoo! acquired web hosting provider GeoCities. Another company Yahoo! acquired was eGroups, which became Yahoo! Groups after the acquisition on June 28, 2000.
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.
On February 7, 2000, the Yahoo! domain was brought to a halt for a few hours as it was the victim of a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). 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. Although the merger never materialized the two companies decided to form a marketing/advertising alliance six years later in 2006.
On June 26, 2000, Yahoo! and Google signed an agreement which retained Google as the default world-wide-web search engine for Yahoo! following a beta trial in 1999.
Yahoo! formed partnerships with telecommunications and Internet providers to create content-rich broadband services to compete with AOL. On June 3, 2002, SBC and Yahoo! launched a national co-branded dial service. In July 2003, BT Openworld announced an alliance with Yahoo!. On August 23, 2005, Yahoo! and Verizon launched an integrated DSL service.
In late 2002, Yahoo! began to bolster its search services by acquiring other search engines. In December 2002, Yahoo! acquired Inktomi. In February 2005, Yahoo! acquired Konfabulator and rebranded it Yahoo! Widgets, a desktop application 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.
In 2004, in response to Google's release of Gmail, Yahoo! upgraded the storage of all free Yahoo! Mail accounts from 4 MB to 1 GB, and all Yahoo! Mail Plus accounts to 2 GB. On July 9, 2004, Yahoo! acquired e-mail provider Oddpost to add an Ajax interface to Yahoo! Mail. On October 13, 2005, Yahoo! and Microsoft announced that Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger would become interoperable. In 2007, Yahoo! took out the storage meters, thus allowing users unlimited storage.
Yahoo! continued acquiring companies to expand its range of services, particularly Web 2.0 services. Yahoo! Launchcast became Yahoo! Music on February 9, 2005. On March 20, 2005, Yahoo! purchased photo sharing service Flickr. On March 29, 2005, the company launched its blogging and social networking service Yahoo! 360°. In June 2005, Yahoo! acquired blo.gs, a service based on RSS feed aggregation. Yahoo! then bought online social event calendar Upcoming.org on October 4, 2005. Yahoo! acquired social bookmark site del.icio.us on December 9, 2005 and then playlist sharing community webjay on January 9, 2006.
On August 27, 2007, Yahoo! released a new version of Yahoo! Mail that makes it possible for users to send instant messages to the largest combined instant messaging (IM) community including users of Yahoo! Messenger and Windows Live Messenger, to send free text messages to mobile phones in the U.S., Canada, India and the Philippines.
On January 29, 2008, Yahoo! announced that the company was laying off 1,000 employees as the company had suffered severely in its inability to effectively compete with industry search leader Google. The cuts represent 7 percent of the company's workforce of 14,300. Employees are being invited to apply for an unknown number of new positions that are expected to open as the company expands areas that promise faster growth.
In February, 2008, Yahoo! acquired Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Maven Networks, a supplier of internet video players and video advertising tools, for approx. $160 million.
On February 1, 2008, after its friendly takeover offer was rebuffed by Yahoo!, Microsoft made an unsolicited takeover bid to buy Yahoo! for US$44.6 billion dollars in cash and stock. Days later, Yahoo! considered alternatives to the merger with Microsoft, including a merger with internet giant Google or a potential transaction with News Corp. However, on February 11, 2008, Yahoo! decided to reject Microsoft's offer as "substantially undervaluing" Yahoo!'s brand, audience, investments, and growth prospects. As of February 22, two Detroit based pension companies have sued Yahoo! and their board of directors for breaching their duty to shareholders by opposing Microsoft's takeover bid and pursuing "value destructive" third-party deals. In early March, Google CEO Eric Schmidt went on record saying that he was concerned that a potential Microsoft-Yahoo! merger might hurt the Internet by compromising its openness. The value of Microsoft's cash and stock offer declined with Microsoft's stock price, falling to $42.2 billion by April 4. On April 5, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sent a letter to Yahoo!’s board of directors stating that if within three weeks they had not accepted the deal, Microsoft would approach shareholders directly in hopes of a electing a new board and moving forward with merger talks. In response, Yahoo! stated on April 7 that they were not against a merger, but that they wanted a better offer. In addition, they stated that Microsoft's "aggressive" approach was worsening their relationship and the chances of a "friendly" merger. Later the same day, Yahoo! stated that the original $45 billion offer was not acceptable. Following this, there has been considerable discussion of having Time Warner's AOL and Yahoo! merge, instead of the originally proposed Microsoft deal.
On May 3, 2008, Microsoft withdrew their offer. During a meeting between Ballmer and Yang, Microsoft had offered to raise its offer by $5 billion to $33 per share, while Yahoo! demanded $37. One of Ballmer’s lieutenants suggested that Yang would implement a poison pill to make the takeover as difficult as possible, saying "They are going to burn the furniture if we go hostile. They are going to destroy the place."
Analysts say that Yahoo!’s shares, which closed at $28.67 on May 2, are likely to drop below $25 and perhaps as low as $20 on May 5, which would put significant pressure on Yang to engineer a turnaround of the company. Some suggest that institutional investors would file lawsuits against Yahoo!’s board of directors for not acting in shareholder interest by refusing Microsoft's offer.
On May 5, 2008, Microsoft's withdrawal sent Yahoo!’s stock spiraling 13% lower to $23.02 in Monday trading and trimmed about $6 billion off of its market capitalization.
After Microsoft's failed bid to acquire Yahoo!, Microsoft is rumored to be looking at acquiring LiveDoor, a leading Japanese portal and the leading blogging service in Japan, to strengthen its position against Yahoo! Japan.
On June 12, 2008, Yahoo announced that it had ended all talks with Microsoft about purchasing either part of the business (the search advertising business) or all of the company. Talks had taken place the previous weekend (June 8), during which Microsoft allegedly told Yahoo that it was no longer interested in a purchase of the entire company at the price offered earlier -- $33/share. Also on June 12, Yahoo announced a non-exclusive search advertising alliance with Google. Upon this announcement, many executives and senior employees have announced their plans to leave the company as it appears that they have lost confidence in Yahoo's strategies. According to market analysts, these pending departures are also impacting Wall Street's perception of the company.
On July 7, 2008, Microsoft said it would reconsider proposing another bid for Yahoo if the company's nine directors were ousted at the annual meeting scheduled to be held on August 1, 2008. Microsoft believes it would be able to better negotiate with a new board.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, calling the current board irrational in its approach to talks with Microsoft, launched a proxy fight to replace Yahoo's board. On July 21, 2008 Yahoo settled with Carl Icahn, agreeing to appoint him and two allies to an expanded board.
Yahoo! Mail premium service MailPlus provides additional functionality including POP/SMTP access to Yahoo! mail accounts, although such functionality is already provided for free by Yahoo! competitor Gmail. Some MailPlus subscribers have reported difficulties in successfully cancelling their Mailplus (automatically renewed and paid by credit card) subscriptions. Although other areas of the Mailplus web interface appear to function correctly, a blank page appears when users select "cancel service" from the list of options to manage the service. It is unknown whether this error has been an accidental oversight by Yahoo! programmers, or a deliberate attempt to retain Mailplus subscription cash flows as long as possible.
Yahoo! Photos was shut down on September 20, 2007 in favor of Flickr. On October 16, 2007, Yahoo! announced that they will no longer provide support or perform bug fixes on Yahoo! 360° as they intend to abandon it in early 2008 in favor of a "universal profile" that will be similar to their Mash experimental system.
Yahoo! has developed partnerships with different broadband providers such as AT&T (via BellSouth & SBC), Verizon Communications, Rogers Communications, Axtel and British Telecom, offering a range of free and premium Yahoo! content and services to subscribers.
On March 31, 2008 Yahoo! launched web portal http://shine.yahoo.com/ another Yahoo! property dedicated to women between the ages of 25 and 54. Yahoo! called this demographic underserved by current Yahoo! properties. With Shine Yahoo! will expand its offerings in parenting, sex and love, healthy living, food, career, money, entertainment, fashion, beauty home life and astrology.
The results of a Web search are listed on a single page and are prioritized into categories. The list of results is based on calculations that Yahoo! computers make on certain information the user is seeking.
Yahoo! also offers HotJobs to help recruiters find the talent they seek.
Yahoo! launched its new Internet advertisement sales system on February 5, 2007 called Panama. It allows advertisers to bid for search terms based on their popularity to display their ads on search results pages. The system takes bids, ad quality, click-through rates and other factors into consideration in determining how ads are ranked on search results pages. Through Panama, Yahoo! aims to provide more relevant search results to users, a better overall experience, as well as increase monetization -- to earn more from the ads it shows.
On April 7, 2008, Yahoo! announced Yahoo! AMP!, an online advertising management platform. The platform seeks to simplify advertising sales by unifying buyer and seller markets. The service is scheduled for release in quarter 3 of 2008.
Yahoo! Search BOSS is a new service that allows developers to build search applications based on Yahoo!'s search technology. Early Partners in the program include Hakia, Me.dium, Daylife, and Cluuz.
Other forms of advertising which bring in revenue for Yahoo! include display and contextual advertising.
Working with comScore the The New York Times found that Yahoo! is able to collect far more data about Web users than its competitors from its Web sites and its 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.
|Sales||1 625||3 574||5 258||6 426|
|EBITDA||453||1 000||1 505||1 066|
|Net Results||238||840||1 896||751|
|Staff||5 500||7 600||9 800||11 400|
Other English language sites include:
The official directory for all of the Yahoo! International sites:
Each of the international sites are wholly-owned by Yahoo!, with the exception of Yahoo! Japan1, in which it holds a 33% minority stake. Historically, Yahoo! entered into joint venture agreements with Softbank for the major European sites2 (UK, France, Germany) and well as Korea and Japan. In November 2005, Yahoo! purchased the minority interests that Softbank owned in Europe and Korea.
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