Fri, Mar 12, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Co-founder of Yahoo returns to Taiwan

SEARCH-ENGINE GURU Jerry Yang, a native of Taiwan who helped to create the world's largest Internet portal in 1994, outlined his vision for the future of his company

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Jerry Yang, a co-founder and board member of Yahoo Inc, gestures during an interview in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Jerry Yang (楊致遠), a co-founder of Yahoo Inc in 1994, was born in Taiwan and raised in California. Talking to the local media while on a short visit to his hometown yesterday, he shared his plans for navigating the world's largest Internet portal through cyberspace.

Question: Can you talk about your competition with Google, which is now the world's most-used search engine?

Jerry Yang: I think so far, there is no search engine, regardless of it being Yahoo, Google, MSN or AOL, which is capable of providing a perfect search solution. Currently, 50 percent of search results fail to match the search parameters. Technology is the key to closing that gap. Thus, we have been constantly investing in and improving our search technology. The buy-out of Overture Services Inc last year is an example of our efforts, as it helped us to enhance search technology and expand the pay-for-performance search business. Besides, as Microsoft also uses our technology, it means that nearly 50 percent of all searches in the world use Yahoo technology. This coverage gives us the advantage of learning more about consumer behavior and what they want to find, which is a foundation for us to improve ourselves on.

Q: What is the biggest challenge for Yahoo? What is the next step for Internet portal operators such as Yahoo?

Yang: As the rate of Internet use keeps growing, it is becoming a daily necessity for the younger generations, rather than something new as it is to people my age. This will entail a fundamental change of the Internet environment derived from higher expectations. Therefore, we need to come up with more products and services to meet users' needs. One of our plans, which is also a trend for the portal business, is personalization. By providing personalized service, we can integrate users' applications such as search, e-mail, online shopping and others, making it more users friendly.

Q: What did Yahoo and the Internet industry learn from the Internet bubble in 2000? Is there another bubble in the future that may pop?

Yang: One lesson we learned from the bubble is that we shouldn't try to do everything. Now we focus on e-commerce, search and content and try our best to enhance these three divisions to serve our users. We try not to hastily jump into a fad until we see a critical mass to support the business. I think as long as a market is rapidly growing, there will always be bubbles out there. To avoid another burst is to create a good business model, based on a long-term view and commitment to the industry, which is what I'm doing now.

Q: Yahoo performed well in Taiwan after merging with Kimo in 2001. However, you seem to be falling behind your competitors in China. What is the major reason for the setback?

Yang: Internet portal businesses in China didn't start to thrive until last year, when the wireless model (sending short messages from Internet portals) boosted up the sector. To catch up with other players, last year we acquired Beijing 3721 Technology Co (北京三七二一科技) -- a portal that 90 percent of Chinese Internet users access -- to increase our market presence, and forged an auction joint venture with sina.com (新浪).

I think China is a massive market that can accommodate more than one player. With our technology and partnership, I believe we'll be competitive in the market.

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