Stanford News


CONTACT: David F. Salisbury, News Service (415) 725-1944;
Jennifer Hwang, Yahoo, Inc. (408) 731-3362

Yahoo! founders endow new Stanford chair

David Filo and Chih-Yuan "Jerry" Yang ­ inventors of Yahoo!, the first online directory for the World Wide Web ­ have given Stanford $2 million to establish a new endowed chair in the School of Engineering.

The two, who are age 30 and 28, respectively, are the youngest individuals to have endowed a chair at Stanford in the 22 years that the university records extend.

"Stanford was an integral part of the creation of Yahoo," Yang said. "Through the endowment of a professorship, David and I feel that we can give back to the university by providing a long-term resource to advance levels of teaching and research. We believe that, by allowing the endowment to focus on technology and having some emphasis on entrepreneurship, we can hopefully seed the next generation of great ideas and new businesses to develop."

The entrepreneurs have requested that the holder of the Yahoo! Founders Chair be an individual at the forefront of information systems technology, including computer science, electrical engineering or related fields. It is also their desire that the holder "be an individual who has demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit, either through their research activities or through association with a start-up company or other commercial endeavor."

John Hennessy, dean of engineering, said that "our relationship with Silicon Valley is a unique asset both to the Valley and to Stanford. Of all the startups that have come from Silicon Valley, Yahoo has probably affected more people in less time than any other. Jerry's and Dave's generosity is a model for other successful entrepreneurs, and it follows in the footsteps of some of Stanford's most important benefactors."

The Yahoo! Founders Professor will be appointed at a later date. It is the 40th endowed chair in the School of Engineering.

The Yahoo! directory started as a hobby. Filo and Yang had both received master's degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford in 1990. They were working on their doctorates in the Computer Systems Laboratory in 1994 when they began compiling a guide to World Wide Web sites that they found interesting. Before long they found that their home-brewed lists were becoming too long and unwieldy. Gradually they began to spend more and more time on Yahoo!. They converted it into a customized database designed to serve the needs of the thousands of users who began to use it as a regular service. The pair developed special software to locate, identify and edit material on web sites.

In less than a year, traffic to the site, which was located on a Stanford computer, grew so large that it began to affect overall campus connectivity. In early 1995 Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape Communications in Mountain View, Calif., invited Filo and Yang to move their files over to larger computers housed at Netscape. They accepted his invitation and Netscape put a link to the directory on its popular web browsers.

The pair set up their own company, Yahoo! Inc., which filed a much-publicized initial public offering in 1996. Last month, the company reported revenues totaling $8,551,000 for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 1996, a 55 percent increase over revenues of $5,515,000 reported in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.


By David F. Salisbury