It's been said that "Yahoo" stands for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle," but then again, many things have been said about this company. Based on the Web site created by David Filo and Jerry Yang of the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University, Yahoo! is one of the Web's most popular destinations and is considered the poster child of the first generation of the Internet. With a keen eye for the popular as well as the useful, Filo and Yang created a directory of Web resources that now performs literally millions of searches on the Web each day.
Yahoo! is a search directory edited by humans, giving users relevant results in a clear, consistent, categorical manner. (Search engines, on the other hand, are notorious for returning thousands of meaningless links that have little or nothing to do with the keywords you typed in.) An early favorite in the industry and with online users, Yahoo! became known to the general public with its large IPO and subsequent success (at one point, the company was valued at $150 billion dollars, twice that of Disney). The reasons why it is so highly valued are many (including the fact that the market as a whole was overvaluing most Internet companies before the dot-com shakeout).
As an early player, Yahoo! was first-to-market and garnered a huge percentage of market share in the online search industry. It consistently generated online advertising revenue because it had the largest amount of traffic. Shortly thereafter, it forged ahead with its own business models in the new economy and led the field in forming co-branded relationships, giving Yahoo! more traffic and value. Still ahead of its time, it became an industry leader as one of the first portals (a site that includes updates about weather, stocks, news of daily life, your own e-mail account, and so on).
An intriguing aspect of Yahoo! as a business model is that most of its technology is already developed, so there are few additional development costs going into it; yet at the same time, it will continue to generate more traffic and dollars with more partnerships and with the large amount of new users going online for this kind of look-up information. Yahoo! resists the notion of adding graphics to its GUI, and this helps keep its brand of search tree browsing easy to read (it's like doing research in a library).
Now that it has branched out vertically, it is also expanding internationally; Yahoo! is one of the best sources for finding businesses and cool places in other cities worldwide. In other words, it is the most popular global address book. If you have a Web site but aren't listed, you must manually submit your URL to be included in the Yahoo! directory. Be patient, though, and do not submit it more than three times. If you don't know the URL of a particular Web site, this is a good place to start your online search.
Note: Regarding the origin of the name, Jerry Yang and David Filo insist they selected the name because they liked the general definition of a yahoo: "rude, unsophisticated, uncouth." The word was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book Gulliver's Travels. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and action and is barely human. Yahoo! founders selected the name because they considered themselves yahoos.