It's been 10 years already.

Jerry had a baby recently. Having a baby is harder than running a startup.

Q: Did/do you want to do anything else?

A: It feels like a blink. The time has gone by very quickly. Yahoo is a constant work in progress. We don't want to look back too much because you can lose sight of the future. Some things are still true while others have changed.

Q: The very early days. He shows an old Yahoo home page. David has strict rules about the home page. He shows the current home page. How's the old one make you feel?

A: Old.

Q: What sort of decisions went into this?

A: It's about continuing to evolve Yahoo as a reflection of what's going on on-line. It's more about services now--not just content. The industry has evolved, but so have the users. The next generation of uses have completely different needs and expections.

Q: What dumb things did you do over the years?

A: To do it over again, we'd maybe not have taken it public so soon. The IPO was in 1996 (pre-bubble) but it would have been nice to wait. The tradeoff was letting competitors do it and get the money sooner than Yahoo? And the exposure helped too. The competition helps.

Q: What advice would you give to Larry and Sergey?

A: They've gotten great advice and are doing everything they can. I hope they enjoy every minute of it. What they've done is truly amazing.

Q: Did you learn something from them?

A: I think the world did. This is a different environment.

Q: When Yahoo was young, there was a lot of idealism. Why is the Yahoo brand so versatile?

A: It's the name. But it's not a right or entilement. We have to earn that privilege from our users every day. We missed some emerging trends a few years ago. And we'll make more mistakes--2.0 mistakes, hopefully.

Q: During that era (early 2002), campus was very sad. You got a new CEO. He got a lot of credit for the turnaround. Rumors about Disney?

A: I think that Terry's done an unbelievable job. But rumors are rumors (or speculation). As far as I know he's very happy and has a lot of Yahoo stock--that's a good motivator.

Q: What about the data lock-in issue?

A: Data is a very personal thing. Yahoo is in the trust business. We can only be viable if people trust us with their data and let them do what they want with their data. We have policies (beyond the law) about what we can and cannot do with user data.

Q: What won't you do on the Web?

A: Violate trust. There's a social contract here.

Q: In terms of products.

A: Not what Kim is doing [SpikeSource]. We hire people smarter than ourselves. But it's really about doing something that we can do better by integrating into Yahoo. RSS links you out to the rest of the Web--takes people off Yahoo. But we're being more open and transparent. Some things are better on our network, some not.

Q: What keeps you up at night? (Other than the baby!)

A: The Web 2.0 revolution and convergence. We need to figure out where Yahoo belongs in that world. Worried about the next 2 guys who are gonna drop out of the Standford PhD program.

Audience Questions

Q: Jeff Jarvis recruits Marc Canter but then asks Jerry about his old job: "get people in and out of Yahoo as fast as possible." That's changed now. There's a clutter now. Where's the UI going? Is Yahoo too clutered?

A: Yes. Our biggest challenge it finding ways to let users know what we have. The home page needs to offer users more control. This isn't about broadcasting what everyone wants. But we still need a way to inform users about what is new at the same time. And we're trying to figure out how to unclutter. Everyone uses Yahoo differently. The UI may change in this broadband world.

Q: Marc says things to Jerry about the one size fits all mentality. But then asks about Open Source infrastructure. Amazon, Google, eBay are examples. But we need non-big company standards. Marc wants a tiny big of the billions to help support Open Standards. What do you think about helping the world?

A: I like helping the world. We're big advocates of Open Source and employ Open Source folks (core commit). As for APIs, we're a 10 year old company with numerous other companies folded in, we've realized the necessity of getting our own services to talk to each other. We're working on this inside. It'll hit the public when the time is right. We'll keep pushing it. I believe in giving back. Giving money away is harder than making it. If it can make a real difference, I'm willing to consider it. It's less about the money and more about pushing this as a whole. Money is easy. What impact are we going for?

Q: Adam Rifkin asks for a good bubble story?

A: Trying to get a free version of a book.

Q: What will Yahoo look like in 10 years? What's it look like and what is it on? Predict.

A: 10 years ago today would have seemed like a disappointment on the UI front. But he'd have underestimated the impact. So 10 years from now, Yahoo will be a brand and service that makes people's Internet Life easier. Devices, entertainment, community, interaction, appeal to emotions. If people are still happy using Yahoo in 10 years, I'll be a very happy guy. Hard to set anything else in stone. "It took us 10 years to get blogs?!"

Q: Instant messenger. There was a hack that let you access AIM. Why not make it available?

A: That's up to them, not us. If the other side wants to shut if off, they can. IM has to interop in the future. It's like having three telephone networks.

Q: Esther asks about China?

A: I'm a Chinese American, but understand the industry and business in China. That society is changing very fast. There's what you see and what you don't see--what people are saying. They're saying hopeful things. They have new confidence. But they're on a path that's a one way street. The middle class needs more education, technology, freedom, and so on. Those will drive freedom of speech and communication. We operate in China. So we are helping the government but I don't agree with their government. There are other governments we don't agree with either. We're not a big player there today. We need to invest in the next generation there.

Time for the iPod giveaway now.

See Also: My Web 2.0 post archive for coverage of all the other sessions I attended.

Posted by jzawodn at October 07, 2004 05:58 PM

Reader Comments
# Rick said:

Nobody asked Jerry about that Zawodny guy?

on October 7, 2004 08:22 PM
# Rony said:

Just want to say thank you for the excellent coverage of Web 2.0. Next best thing to being there.

on October 7, 2004 09:20 PM
# Rick said:

Yep. Sounded like an interesting conference.

Tough job going to all these conferences on your company's dime! What's next?

on October 7, 2004 10:05 PM
# Adam said:

I was tempted to ask Jerry about that Zawodny guy, but then I figured that Jerry had just been beaten over the head by Marc Canter and he needed something lighter to cleanse the palette for Kara Swisher's question. :)

on October 8, 2004 03:35 PM
# Kannappan said:

Hey Does yahoo have any plans of an internet based operating system. Am hearing a lot of rumours of G developing a similar thing...

on October 10, 2004 06:14 PM
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. My current, past, or previous employers are not responsible for what I write here, the comments left by others, or the photos I may share. If you have questions, please contact me. Also, I am not a journalist or reporter. Don't "pitch" me.


Privacy: I do not share or publish the email addresses or IP addresses of anyone posting a comment here without consent. However, I do reserve the right to remove comments that are spammy, off-topic, or otherwise unsuitable based on my comment policy. In a few cases, I may leave spammy comments but remove any URLs they contain.