Jerry Yang

For other people named Jerry Yang, see Jerry Yang (disambiguation).
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Yang.
Jerry Yang

Jerry Yang in 2007
Native name
Born Jerry Chih-Yuan Yang
(1968-11-06) November 6, 1968
Taipei, Taiwan
Residence Los Altos Hills, California,
United States
Alma mater Stanford University
Occupation Founding Partner, AME Cloud Ventures.
Net worth Decrease US$1.8 billion (September 2015)[1]
Spouse(s) Akiko Yamazaki

Jerry Chih-Yuan Yang (traditional Chinese: 楊致遠; simplified Chinese: 杨致远; pinyin: Yáng Zhìyuǎn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: iông tì oán); born November 6, 1968 in Taipei) is a Taiwanese American Internet entrepreneur and programmer. He is the co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo! Inc.[2][3]

Early life

Jerry Yang's signature

Yang was born with the name Yang Chih-Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan on November 6, 1968;[3] his mother was a professor of English and drama and his father died when he was two and by then Yang had a brother.[4][5] In 1978, his mother moved the family to San Jose, California, where his grandmother and extended family took care of the boys while his mother taught English to other immigrants.[4] After coming to the US Yang took the American name Jerry, his mother Lily, and his brother Ken.[6] He says that he only knew one English word, "shoe", when he came to America, but became fluent in English in about three years.[7]

Yang earned both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Stanford University in four years.[7] He met David Filo at Stanford in 1989, and the two of them went to Japan In 1992 for a six month exchange program, during which he met the woman who would become his wife, who was there as part of the exchange program.[7]


Yang founded Yahoo! in 1994, served as CEO from 2007 to 2009. He 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". [8]

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.". Yahoo! received around 100,000 unique visitors by the fall of 1994. In April 1995, Yahoo! received a $2 million investment from Sequoia Capital, 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.[4][9][10] 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.[1][11] Terry Semel, who replaced Koogle as CEO after the dot-com bubble crash, served until 2007 when the rise of Google led the board to fire him and appoint Yang as interim CEO.[4]

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.[12]


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. 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.[4]

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.[4] In 2012, Yahoo! sold a portion of its stake in Alibaba for $7.6 billion.[13] The company made an additional $9.4 billion in Alibaba's 2014 IPO.[14] 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."[13]

Chinese government collaboration controversies

In fall 2005, a month after the Alibaba investment, news broke that Yahoo! had cooperated with Chinese authorities in the arrest of Chinese journalist Shi Tao in November 2004.[15] Tao had used a Yahoo email address to anonymously notify a pro-democracy website in the US that the Chinese government had 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".[15]

Yang justified the action, stating: "To be doing business in China or anywhere else in the world, we have to comply with local law[s]." Yang and Yahoo! were heavily criticized, and Reporters Without Borders called Yahoo! "a Chinese police informant".[16][17]

In April 2007, Wang Xiaoning and other journalists 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.[18]

In early November 2007, Yang faced questions from a Congressional committee with respect to Yahoo!'s role in the arrests of Tao and other journalists in China. During the hearings he apologized to Tao's mother, who was also at the hearing.[19][20][21]

A week later, 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."[22] That week, Yang established the Yahoo! Human Rights Fund, a fund to provide "humanitarian and legal support" to online dissidents.[23]

In February 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that she raised issues about jailed Chinese journalists with her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi; she cited a letter from Jerry Yang requesting her assistance in freeing the jailed dissidents.[24] Late in 2008, the Laogai Museum opened; the museum was run by noted Chinese dissident Harry Wu and showcased China's laogai penal system. It was funded by the Yahoo! Human Rights Fund.[25]

Microsoft negotiations

In February 2008, Microsoft made an unsolicited offer to buy Yahoo! for $44.6 billion; at the time Yahoo! was still struggling to catch up to Google, while Microsoft was still seeking an internet strategy.[26] The offer was a 62% premium to Yahoo!'s market value at the time.[4] The negotiations were difficult, as Yang had no desire to sell Yahoo! and would not make a counter offer.[27] Once the negotiations ended in failure in May 2008, Yahoo!'s stock price plunged.[4][27] Yang and board chairman Roy Bostock were strongly criticized by investors for their handling of negotiations, which later led to several shareholder lawsuits and a proxy fight led by Carl Icahn, which was settled in July 2008.[28]

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.[4]

Resignation as CEO to departure

On November 17, 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported Yang would step down as CEO as soon as the company found a replacement.[29] He served as CEO until 2009, when Yahoo! named Carol Bartz as CEO.[30] He regained his former position as "Chief Yahoo" and remained on Yahoo's board of directors.[31]

In January 2012, Yahoo! announced that Yang was 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.[32]

AME Cloud Ventures

After leaving Yahoo! he became a mentor to technology startups and an investor through his firm, AME Cloud Ventures.[4][33][34] 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.[4] He re-joined the board of Alibaba in 2014.[12]

Board seats

Personal life

Yang is married to Akiko Yamazaki, a Japanese woman who was raised in Costa Rica, whom he met in 1992 during a 6 month Stanford exchange program when they were both students there.[7] Yamazaki graduated from Stanford University with a degree in industrial engineering and is a director with the Wildlife Conservation Network. .[36] He currently resides in Los Altos Hills, California.[37]


In February 2007, Yang and his wife gave $75 million to Stanford University, their alma mater,[36] $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, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco exhibited selections from the Chinese calligraphy collection belonging to Yang and his wife. He 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]


  1. 1 2 "#869 Jerry Yang". Forbes.
  2. "Jerry Chih-Yuan Yang". Boardroom Insiders. November 7, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  3. 1 2 Henderson, Harry (2009), "Yang, Jerry (Chih-Yuan Yang)", A to Z of Computer Scientists, Infobase, p. 279
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Parmy Olson for Forbes. 30 September 2014 Finding Alibaba: How Jerry Yang Made The Most Lucrative Bet In Silicon Valley History
  5. Pickert, Kate (19 November 2008). "Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang". Time.
  6. Sherman, Josepha (2001). Jerry Yang and David Filo : chief yahoos of Yahoo!. Brookfield, Conn.: Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 9780761319610.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Schlender, Brent (2000-03-06). "How A Virtuoso Plays The Web". Fortune. Retrieved 2008-11-08.
  8. Solomon, Rob. "Yahoo Was the GE of the Internet". Recode. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  9. Yahoo! Inc. – Company History.
  10. Hal Plotkin for Metro. 11 April 1996 MetroActive: A Couple of Yahoos
  11. "1999 Young Innovators Under 35: Jerry Yang, 29". Technology Review. 1999. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Brian Womack for Bloomberg News 11 Sept, 2014 Yahoo's Yang Is Back Playing Alibaba-Board Power Broker
  13. 1 2 Helft, Miguel (18 September 2014). "Jerry Yang: The most successful American investor in China?". Fortune. Time, Inc. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  14. Novellino, Teresa (1 October 2014). "Inside Jerry Yang's wild bet on Alibaba and Jack Ma". Upstart Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  15. 1 2 Joseph Kahn for the New York Times. September 8, 2005 Yahoo Role Documented in Chinese Trial
  16. Reporters Without Borders. 6 September 2005 Information supplied by Yahoo ! helped journalist Shi Tao get 10 years in prison.
  17. Editors of the Washington Post. September 18, 2005 Editorial: Obeying Orders
  18. Miguel Helft for the New York Times April 19, 2007 Chinese Political Prisoner Sues in U.S. Court, Saying Yahoo Helped Identify Dissidents
  19. Yahoo summoned to Washington over Chinese arrests, c/net news blog, October 16, 2007
  20. Boudreau, John (2007-11-07). "Lawmaker scolds Yahoo: 'Morally you are pygmies'". Mercury News. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
  21. Associated Press in the New York Times. November 7, 2007 Yahoo Criticized in Case of Jailed Dissident
  22. Corey Boles and Scott Morrison for the Wall Street Journal. Nov. 14, 2007 Yahoo Settles Suit Over Jailed Chinese Dissidents
  23. "Press Release: Yahoo! Inc Reaches Settlement On Lawsuit Works To Establish Human Rights Fund" (PDF). Yahoo!. 13 November 2007.
  24. "Rice presses China on jailed dissidents". New York Times. 2007-02-27.
  25. Fowler, Geoffrey A (12 November 2008). "Yahoo-Sponsored Chinese Human Rights Museum Opens in Washington". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  26. "Yahoo weighs up options". Financial Times. February 3, 2008.
  27. 1 2 Lohr, Steve (2008-05-05). "Microsoft's Failed Yahoo Bid Risks Online Growth". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  28. Rob Hof for Bloomberg BusinessWeek TechBeat July 21, 2008 Yahoo Settles Proxy Fight With Icahn; What's Next?
  29. Yang to Step Down as Yahoo CEO, The Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2008
  30. Yahoo names new chief executive, BBC News, January 14, 2009
  31. Michael Liedtke (2008-11-18). "Yahoo! to Replace Yang as CEO". Retrieved 2009-09-11.
  32. Yahoo announces resignation of Jerry Yang, Marketwatch News, January 17, 2012
  33. "Jerry Yang Is Back (And Investing More Than Ever)," Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2013
  34. "Jerry Yang's Next Act: Startup Investor and Mentor," Mashable, March 5, 2013
  35. John Chambers for Cisco Blogs. September 19, 2012 Jerry Yang to Retire from Cisco's Board
  36. 1 2 Stanford University Press Release. February 15, 2007 Alumni couple Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo!, and Akiko Yamazaki pledge $75 million to alma mater
  37. Profile of Jerry Yang. (2011-03-29). Retrieved on 2012-01-09.
  38. Stanford Report, March 3, 2008 Y2E2: New building sets sustainability standards for Stanford
  39. Seno, Alexandra A. (12 October 2012). "Worthy Characters". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  40. Rosenberg, Karen (19 June 2014). "A Calligraphic Answer to 'I Like This'". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jerry Yang.
Business positions
Preceded by
Terry Semel
Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo!
Succeeded by
Carol Bartz
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