Jerry Yang

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“If you’re not in the game to win, you shouldn’t be in the game.”


Jerry Chih-Yuan Yang[4][5] (born November 6, 1968) is a Taiwanese-born American internet entrepreneur, engineer, the co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo! Inc.[3]

Early life

Yang was born in Taipei, Taiwan on November 6, 1968, and moved to San Jose, California at the age of ten with his mother and younger brother.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8][9]


Yang founded Yahoo! in 1994, served as CEO from 2007 to 2009, and left Yahoo! in 2012. He founded a venture capital firm called AME Cloud Ventures and as of 2015, serves on several corporate boards. According to Rob Solomon, a venture capitalist at Accel Partners, Yang was “a great founder, evangelist, strategist and mentor,” having “created the blueprint for what is possible on the Internet.” [10]

1994-2012: Yahoo! years

While studying at Stanford in 1994, Yang and David Filo co-created an Internet website called “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web,” which consisted of a directory of other websites. As it grew in popularity they renamed it “Yahoo! Inc.” and dropped out of Stanford. Yahoo! received around 100,000 unique visitors by the fall of 1994. In April 1995, Yahoo! received a $2 million investment from Sequoia Capital and Tim Koogle was hired as CEO, and Yang and Filo were each appointed “Chief Yahoo”. Yahoo! received a second round of funding in the Fall 1995 from Reuters and Softbank. It went public in April 1996 with 49 employees.[6][11][12] In 1999, Yang was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[3][13]Terry Semel replaced Koogle as CEO after the dot-com bubble crash and he served until 2007 when the rise of Google led the board to fire him and appoint Yang as interim CEO.[6]

Dealings in China

Yang led Yahoo!’s investment in Alibaba prior to becoming CEO and served as CEO during the time when Yahoo!’s dealings with the Chinese government became controversial.[2]


Yang met Alibaba founder Jack Ma in 1997 during Yang’s first trip to China. Ma, a government-employed tour guide and former English teacher, gave Yang a tour of the Great Wall of China. The two hit it off and discussed the growth of the Web, and Ma created Alibaba several months later. A 1997 photo of Yang and Ma at the Great Wall still hangs on the wall in Alibaba’s Hangzhou office.[6]

In 2005, under Yang’s direction but before he took over as CEO in 2007, Yahoo! purchased a 40% stake in Alibaba for $1 billion plus the assets of Yahoo! China, valued at $700 million.[6] In 2012, Yahoo! sold a portion of its stake in Alibaba for $7.6 billion.[14] The company made an additional $9.4 billion in Alibaba’s 2014 IPO.[15] Eric Jackson, the founder of hedge fund Ironfire Capital, called Yahoo!’s investment in Alibaba “the best investment an American company has ever made in China,” and stated, “Jerry deserves enormous credit for that.”[14]

AME Cloud Ventures

After leaving Yahoo! he became a mentor to technology startups and an investor through his firm, AME Cloud Ventures.[6][34][35] AME (pronounced “ah-meh”) has provided funding to more than 50 startups, including Tango, Evernote, Wattpad and Chinese travel site Shijiebang. “Ame” means “rain” in Japanese, a nod to Yang’s interest in cloud computing.[6] He re-joined the board of Alibaba in 2014.[2]


In February 2007, Jerry Yang and his wife gave $75 million to Stanford University, their alma mater,[37] $50 million of which went to building the “Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building”, a multi-disciplinary research, teaching and lab building designed with sustainable architecture principles.[38]

In late 2012 and early 2013, San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum exhibited selections from the Chinese calligraphy collection belonging to Yang and his wife. Yang began the collection in the late 1990s; it contains about 250 pieces.[39] These selections also appeared at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 2014 exhibition “Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy.”[40]


This profile is partly adapted from a Wikipedia entry on Jerry Yang, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.