Jerry Yang

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The Internet was more or less virgin territory in 1994 when Jerry Yang, a Stanford University graduate student, hatched an idea for a directory service to help people navigate the Web.

Over the course of several months, Mr. Yang's elegantly simple concept morphed into an actual business plan. Yahoo! would function not only as an Internet search vehicle, but it also would organize and personalize Web content.

By the middle of 1995, Mr. Yang and Yahoo! co-founder David Filo nailed their first $1 million in venture capital, a paltry first round by today's standards. Mr. Yang also lured Tim Koogle, then 43, aboard as CEO, long before Internet start-ups started hiring grown-ups to lead their fledgling business operations. "We look for people who are as passionate about the Internet as we are. As important, we also want people who want to win and who have a vision about winning and building a great team," says Mr. Yang.

Five years and $70 billion in market capitalization later, there's no doubt that Yahoo! rules the Net, thanks in large part to Jerry Yang's prescience and determination. Yahoo! struck a chord almost immediately, filling the need for an effective surfing tool to drill through the Web's seemingly inchoate morass.

Mr. Yang, now 33, conceived of Yahoo! as a destination where Web surfers could get whatever they wanted from the site's personalized content, e-commerce offerings, special promotions and other interactive data.

But Yahoo! not only evolved into an all-important interactive portal and gateway for advertisers to reach coveted eyeballs and wallets; it also became an actual destination and a strong Web community. With its many e-commerce initiatives, Yahoo! is now perfectly positioned to gobble a huge chunk of the $20 billion online consumer sales projected this year by Gartner Group.

Yahoo! has grown powerful, in part, due to Mr. Yang's insistence on cutting deals with hundreds of partners rather than inking exclusive agreements with just a few. Its market power has attracted some of the world's top marketers, including Pepsi-Cola Co., Procter & Gamble Co. and Ford Motor Co.

Mr. Yang has also put Yahoo! in the forefront of broadband content delivery. With the acquisitions of Geocities and, he is clearly ready to play in a multichannel universe with multiple content delivery systems. Yahoo! Everywhere, the company's wireless initiative, enables users with wireless data phones to access Yahoo! from wherever they are.

"As we continue to make Yahoo! a bigger part of our users' lives, our goal is to build the Yahoo! brand to be something that makes users feel empowered on the Internet and, ultimately, form a long-lasting relationship that our users trust."

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