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Jerry Yang was a student at Stanford University when he and David Filo started Yahoo as an index of internet pages in 1994.

“When we first got together, we weren’t even thinking about it as a business. It really began as a hobby – we wanted to keep track of our personal interests on the web. The internet had been around for a long time obviously, but it’s when Mosaic [the Netscape browser] and some of the other earlier tools came out that we really started to get excited about it.

“We knew there was a future to this whole thing but we never imagined where things would end up. Eventually, our personal interest lists for the web became too long and unmanageable, so we broke them out into categories and then subcategories and there you had it – the core concept behind Yahoo was born. We also shared these lists with our friends but it wasn’t until we saw our first million-hit day that we realised, ‘Hey, maybe we have something here.’

“So when I look at where we are today, I’m amazed. The success and growth of the business has far exceeded anything I could have ever imagined.

“I think when you look back at the last 10 years, there are things that have happened much faster than we had anticipated, but also things that took a lot longer than expected, such as users making the shift from the PC to mobile devices and general access to broadband.

“I think if you look at users early on, people saw the web as this great outlet for publishing. For the first time, people could have an individual voice out there. That was the driver for the internet from the beginning. But if you look at how that has evolved over the last 10 years, it’s still not as sophisticated as we thought it would be.

“A good example of that is blogging – look how long it took before people actually embraced it. It’s surprising to me how things like that took so long.

“It’s always difficult to predict what’s next, but I think there will definitely be a digital convergence. If you look at the people who grew up with the internet, their media consumption and approach to technology is totally different to their parents’ generation. They rely heavily on the internet for information, personal communication, work and entertainment and they want to take this with them wherever they are.

“The online industry is constantly evolving and I think the internet will continue to impact traditional business far beyond anything we’ve seen today. With the talent, technology and resources out there today, I think we’re going to see some great things happen over the next few years.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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