Jerry Yang (entrepreneur)

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Jerry Yang
Jerry Yang.jpg
Jerry Yang in 2007
Born (1968-11-06) November 6, 1968 (age 46)
Taipei, Taiwan
Residence Los Altos Hills, California, U.S.[1]
Alma mater Stanford University
Occupation Founder of Yahoo! Inc.; Former [2] Board of Directors, Cisco; Former CEO of Yahoo! Inc.
Salary $1.00[3]
Net worth Increase US $ 2.1 billion (October 2014)[4]
Spouse(s) Akiko Yamazaki (Japanese)

Jerry Yang (traditional Chinese: ; simplified Chinese: ; pinyin: Yáng Zhìyuǎn; born November 6, 1968) is a Taiwanese-born American internet entrepreneur, engineer, the co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo! Inc.[5]

Early life[edit]

Yang was born in Chih-Yuang Yang, Taiwan on November 6, 1968, and moved to San Jose, California at the age of ten with his mother and younger brother. He claimed that despite his mother being an English teacher, he only knew one English word (shoe) on his arrival. Becoming fluent in the language in three years, he was then placed into an Advanced Placement English class.[6]

Yang graduated from Sierramont Middle School and Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Stanford University, where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.[7][8]


While Yang studied Electrical Engineering at Stanford, he co-created in February 1994 with David Filo an Internet website called "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web" consisting of a directory of other websites. It was renamed "Yahoo!" (an exclamation). Yahoo! became very popular, and Yang and Filo realized the business potential and co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in April 1995.[9] They took leaves of absence and postponed their doctoral programs indefinitely.

Yahoo! started off as a web portal with a web directory providing an extensive range of products and services for online activities. It is now one of the leading internet brands and, due to partnerships with telecommunications firms, has the most trafficked network on the internet.[citation needed] In 1999, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[10]

As CEO from June 2007 to January 2009, Yang had been criticized by many investors, including Carl Icahn, for not increasing revenues and stock price, while there has been an exodus of executives. Yahoo!'s stock price plummeted after it rejected a takeover from Microsoft, a bid that Yang strongly opposed.[11] On November 17, 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported Jerry Yang would step down as CEO as soon as the company found a replacement. [12]

On January 13, 2009, Yahoo! named Silicon Valley veteran Carol Bartz as its new chief executive, effectively replacing Yang.[13] Yang regained his former position as "Chief Yahoo" and remained on Yahoo's board of directors.[14]

On January 17, 2012, Yahoo! announced that Jerry Yang would be leaving the company, and would be resigning from the board and all other positions at the company. The company also announced his resignation from the boards of Yahoo! Japan and Alibaba Corp.[15] He has become an angel investor and mentor to technology startups.[16] [17]

Personal life[edit]

Yang is married to Akiko Yamazaki, a Japanese woman who was raised in Costa Rica. Yamazaki graduated from Stanford University with a degree in industrial engineering and is a director with the Wildlife Conservation Network. The couple met at Stanford University in the Kyoto overseas program in 1992.

Yang is currently on the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific Fund, and Cisco, and is also on the Stanford University Board of Trustees.[18]


In February 2007, Jerry Yang and his wife gave US$75 million to Stanford University, their alma mater, the bulk of which went to building the "Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building",[19] a multi-disciplinary research, teaching and lab building, the first to be realized on Stanford's new Science and Engineering Quad.



Jerry Yang was criticized for a statement regarding the role of Yahoo! in the arrest of Chinese journalist Shi Tao by Chinese authorities.

While in China, Shi Tao used a Yahoo email address to notify a pro-democracy website that the Chinese government ordered the Chinese media not to cover the fifteenth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989 on June 4. Yahoo! provided the Chinese security agencies with the IP addresses of the senders, the recipients and the time of the message. Tao was subsequently convicted for "divulging state secrets abroad." Yang was heavily criticized and Reporters Without Borders called Yahoo! "a Chinese police informant" whose actions led to the conviction of a journalist and writer.

Yang declared, "To be doing business in China, or anywhere else in the world, we have to comply with local law[s]." This was controversial, as critics claimed Yahoo! violated international law as well as a 1989 decision by the U.S. Congress to prohibit U.S. companies from selling "crime control and detection" equipment or software to the Chinese Government.[20]

The New York Times reported that political prisoner Wang Xiaoning and other journalists had brought a civil suit against Yahoo for allegedly aiding and abetting the Chinese government which, it was claimed, resulted in torture that included beatings and imprisonment.[21]

In October 2007 Jerry Yang was summoned to Washington to answer for Yahoo's comments regarding its role in the arrests of Shi Tao and other journalists in China.[22][23]

On November 14, 2007, Yahoo agreed to settle with affected Chinese dissidents, paying them undisclosed compensation. Yang stated, "After meeting with the families, it was clear to me what we had to do to make this right for them, for Yahoo, and for the future."

Jerry Yang wrote a letter to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requesting her assistance in freeing the jailed dissidents.[24] In addition, Yang established the Yahoo! Human Rights Fund, a fund to provide "humanitarian and legal support" to online dissidents.[25] One of the first public projects of the fund was financing the establishment of the Laogai Museum, a museum opened by noted Chinese dissident Harry Wu to showcase China's laogai penal system.[26]

This change of heart has not been able to stop the chain of events that began with the arrest of jailed dissident Li Zhi, which resulted in another lawsuit being filed against Yahoo on behalf of Plaintiffs Zheng Cunzhu and Guo Quan who allege the loss of property and a garment business. The complaint alleges, "violation of international law including torture and prolonged detention, as well as unfair business practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and assault."[27]

Microsoft, Yahoo, and Alibaba[edit]

As CEO, Yang rejected a hostile takeover offer from Microsoft in May 2008. Microsoft wanted to purchase Yahoo! to increase its market share and compete more effectively against Google in online search and advertising. During negotiations with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Yang threatened to make the takeover as difficult as possible unless Microsoft raised the price to US$37 per share. One Microsoft executive commented, "They are going to burn the furniture if we go hostile. They are going to destroy the place" (possibly a reference to Yahoo!'s shareholders rights plan that had been in place since 2001).[28] Analysts suggested that Microsoft's raised offer of US$33 per share that would have valued Yahoo! at $44.6 billion was already too expensive, and that Yang was not bargaining in good faith. Yahoo's stock price plunged after Microsoft withdrew the bid. Yang and board chairman Roy Bostock were strongly criticized by investors for their handling of negotiations, which later led to several shareholder lawsuits and an aborted proxy fight from Carl Icahn.[29][30]

Yang's response to the Microsoft takeover was to make a commercial search advertising arrangement with Google but they ended negotiation, after U.S. authorities voiced concerns regarding the effect on competition in the market.

By July 2014, in the United States, Yahoo trades at about $33. Yahoo’s stock market strength resulted from prescient investments by Jerry Yang, who stepped down from his leadership positions at the company in 2012. [31] He made Yahoo an early financier of both Yahoo Japan and Alibaba and fought off repeated efforts by the Chinese company to buy out Yahoo’s stake.


  1. ^ Profile of Jerry Yang. (2011-03-29). Retrieved on 2012-01-09.
  2. ^ Cisco Systems - Board of Directors. Retrieved on 2013-09-04.
  3. ^ Yahoo CEO Yang Made $1 in salary last year. MSNBC (2008-04-29). Retrieved on 2012-01-09.
  4. ^ "#869 Jerry Yang -". Forbes. 
  5. ^ "Jerry Yang - Forbes". Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Schlender, Brent (2000-03-06). "How A Virtuoso Plays The Web Eclectic, inquisitive, and academic, Yahoo's Jerry Yang reinvents the role of the entrepreneur.". Fortune (Cable News Network). Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  7. ^ Jerry Yang | Career Biographies Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  8. ^ Phi Kappa Psi Mass Beta – Famous Phi Psi's Phi Kappa Psi Massachusetts Beta. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
  9. ^ Yahoo! Inc. – Company History.
  10. ^ "1999 Young Innovators Under 35: Jerry Yang, 29". Technology Review. 1999. Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ Yang to Step Down as Yahoo CEO, The Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2008
  13. ^ Yahoo names new chief executive, BBC News, January 14, 2009
  14. ^ Michael Liedtke (2008-11-18). "Yahoo! to Replace Yang as CEO". Retrieved 2009-09-11. 
  15. ^ Yahoo announces resignation of Jerry Yang, ‘’Marketwatch News, January 17, 2012
  16. ^ "Jerry Yang Is Back (And Investing More Than Ever)," Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2013
  17. ^ "Jerry Yang's Next Act: Startup Investor and Mentor," Mashable, March 5, 2013
  18. ^ Yahoo! Inc. – Management Team.
  19. ^ Hennessy outlines ‘green’ building plans. (2008-09-10). Retrieved on 2012-01-09.
  20. ^ Xue Li: Human Rights Lawyer Questions Yahoo!'s Aid to China in Arresting a Journalist, Epoch Times, Sep 23, 2005
    Obeying Orders, Washington Post, September 18, 2005
  21. ^ Chinese political prisoner sues in U.S. court, New York Times, April 18, 2007
    Chinese political
  22. ^ Yahoo summoned to Washington over Chinese arrests, c/net news blog, October 16, 2007
  23. ^ Boudreau, John (2007-11-07). "Lawmaker scolds Yahoo: 'Morally you are pygmies'". Mercury News. Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  24. ^ "Rice presses China on jailed dissidents". International Herald Tribune. 2007-02-27. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  25. ^ "Press Release: Yahoo! Inc Reaches Settlement On Lawsuit Works To Establish Human Rights Fund". Yahoo!. Retrieved 12 December 2008. 
  26. ^ Fowler, Geoffrey A (12 November 2008). "Yahoo-Sponsored Chinese Human Rights Museum Opens in Washington". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 December 2008. 
  27. ^ Mills, Elinor (2007-02-27). "Yahoo sued by jailed dissidents again". CNET News. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  28. ^ "Yahoo weighs up options". Financial Times. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  29. ^ "Microsoft Withdraws Proposal to Acquire Yahoo!". Microsoft. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  30. ^ Lohr, Steve (2008-05-05). "Microsoft's Failed Yahoo Bid Risks Online Growth". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-06. 
  31. ^ "Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang resigns". Reuters. 2012-01-17. 

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Terry Semel
Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo!
Succeeded by
Carol Bartz