Early Yahoo! on Video

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I came across a fun video from the early days of Yahoo! yesterday, called Yahoo! Jerry and Dave’s Excellent Venture

Here’s a little about the story it covers:

David Filo and Jerry Yang were working on doctorate degrees in computer aided design (CAD), when in their second year, their advisor asked them if they would like to accompany him on a three month trip while he was teaching at Stanford Japan in 1992.

That journey helped seal a friendship that culminated in them later slacking off together on a project instead of working on their graduate studies. The result was Jerry’s Guide to the Web.

After returning from Japan, they found an office to work in – a trailer they would fill with empty pizza boxes and golf clubs, and a couple of servers named after their favorite sumo stars. In 1993, after they started spending a lot of time using Mosiac to surf the web, their professor went on a sabbatical, and Jerry and Dave focused their attentions on the internet instead of their school work.

While surfing, Dave started keeping track of the pages he visited on the web. Jerry decided to take that list and put it into HTML.

A couple of months into the organization of the directory, one to two thousand visitors starting coming to the site everyday, and started recommending sites to add. When their advisor returned, he found that they hadn’t done much work, but they had a fairly successful and useful site.

As Yahoo! (the new name for Jerry’s Guide) was getting “too successful” and bandwidth was getting tight, they had to consider moving off campus. While Filo and Yang started thinking about making the directory into a business, they received a phone call from Sequoia Capital. A meeting at the trailer, “A mother’s nightmare, and a cockroach’s picture of Christmas,” as Sequoia Capital Partner Michael Moritz called it, offered a move to transform the directory into a “media company.”

He also noted that there was never a flicker of doubt in his mind that advertisers would flock to a site, like Yahoo!, that could meet two requirements:

1. It could attract an audience
2. It could retain those users

This is a pretty fun video. I think that it may have circulated around Stanford and possibly some other University classrooms, but I’m not seeing many references to it on the web. It provides a nice look at the history of the company, and the inner workings of Yahoo! in 1997 , approximately 260 employees strong.

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