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Yahoo

What is Yahoo?

Yahoo, or Yahoo.com, is a web services provider that offers both a search engine and a directory of World Wide Web pages organized in a hierarchy of topic categories.

While the Yahoo web portal started off as a web directory, it soon added other services such as email, news and finance. Most notable, Yahoo Search is a competitor to sites like Google Search and Microsoft Bing.

Verizon acquired Yahoo in 2017. Verizon sold Yahoo -- as part of its Verizon Media division, which also included AOL, Engadget, TechCrunch and a digital advertising platform -- to Apollo Global Management in 2021.

Yahoo products and services

In addition to its web search engine and directory, Yahoo account holders can access other web-based services including the following:

  • Yahoo Mail, which provides free email accounts similar to Gmail and AOL, with unlimited storage;
  • Yahoo Finance, a website that covers business and financial news; and
  • Yahoo Sports, a sports news website.

Yahoo also provides online news, weather forecasts and horoscopes.

Yahoo logo

The history of Yahoo

Officially launched in 1995, Yahoo began as the bookmark list of two Stanford University graduate students, David Filo and Jerry Yang. After putting their combined bookmark lists organized by categories on a college site, the list began to grow into an internet phenomenon.

According to the site, Yahoo stands for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle."

It became the first such directory with a large following. Filo and Yang postponed their graduate work and became part of a public offering for a multimillion-dollar corporation.

Yahoo's growth

Over the years, Yahoo has acquired a number of other companies, including GeoCities, Flickr and Tumblr.

In 2008, Yahoo was the most visited website in the United States. However, it has since fallen to fourth place, behind Google, YouTube, Facebook and Amazon.

In 2012, Yahoo appointed Marissa Mayer as its new chief executive officer (CEO). Mayer, who served as CEO through 2017, is credited with revitalizing the company by bringing in new talent and launching new products, such as Yahoo News Digest and Yahoo Weather.

In 2016, Yahoo agreed to sell its core business to Verizon for $4.83 billion. The deal included Yahoo's search engine, email service, digital content and advertising technology businesses. However, the deal excluded Yahoo's 15% share in Alibaba Group and 35.5% share in Yahoo Japan.

In 2021, Verizon sold Yahoo as part of its Verizon Media division to Apollo Global Management for $5 billion.

Yahoo's challenges

Yahoo has also seen its share of challenges.

In 2009, Yahoo received criticism from the Electronic Frontier Foundation for sending a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice to a whistleblower website that had publicly disclosed Yahoo's guidelines for providing its subscribers' private information to law enforcement agencies.

In 2013, Yahoo suffered the largest known data breach in history, which affected more than 3 billion Yahoo user accounts. However, the breach wasn't fully disclosed until 2017.

The breach led to various class-action lawsuits being filed against Yahoo, as well as a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation. Due to this, the Verizon acquisition price was lowered by $350 million, and an agreement was reached to share the liabilities associated with the data breach.

In 2016, Yahoo laid off 15% of its staff.

Despite all these challenges, Yahoo remains one of the most popular web service providers in the world.

Learn about the 10 biggest data breaches in history and how to prevent them and explore search beyond search engines.

This was last updated in January 2023

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