Yahoo! (not Yahoo, although the URL might suggest otherwise) started off as an online search engine and guide to the World Wide Web, but meanwhile it's a whole lot more.
The directory guide
The Yahoo! directory consists of links to web sites organized in categories. These are based on subjects. The fourteen main categories are Arts & Humanities, Business & Economy, Computers & Internet, Education, Entertainment, Government, Health, News & Media, Recreation & Sports, Reference, Regional, Science, Social Science and Society & Culture. Each of these categories has its sub-categories, which consequently has its own sub-categories, etcetera. This causes the Yahoo! structure to be a very large tree with branches that should cover each thinkable subject on the web. The web site links are maintained by a team of evaluating editors.
The search engine
Searching is possible by surfing through the directories, but you can also type a search term into a query box. Yahoo! matches the search term (or terms) with directories, but also - as most search engines do - with web site titles. Content also counts, but Yahoo! uses the Google engine for this. Last but not least, Yahoo! matches the search term with other Yahoo! services, like News and Shopping.
Besides its function as search engine and guide, Yahoo! also provides other services, like information and commerce. Shopping includes auctions, travel and yellow pages. Media provides the latest news (general, sports) and weather forecasts. Connect is a much used Yahoo! feature, consisting of free web space (thanks to the takeover of Geocities) and Yahoo! Mail, Chat, Messenger (comparable to ICQ) and Career. The company also has a games corner, a domain registration service, a photo publishing feature, address books, entertainment guides, and much, much more. You can reach most of these services by pasting the name of the feature in front of the yahoo.com address: games.yahoo.com, news.yahoo.com, but also pets.yahoo.com, snow.yahoo.com, etcetera.
When Yahoo! started to grow and became an internationally used search guide, the company decided to create sub-Yahoo!s. Each country or region of respectable size has its own Yahoo!, for instance Yahoo! Spain, Yahoo! Argentina and Yahoo! Asia, reachable at www.yahoo.country (www.yahoo.es) or country.yahoo.com (ar.yahoo.com, asia.yahoo.com).
According to their Info Center, Yahoo! Inc. is a Sunnyvale, California based company. It was founded in 1994 by students David Filo and Jerry Yang (starting out as Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web), who ought to be millionaires by now. The brand Yahoo! was born as follows:
The name Yahoo! is an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle," but Filo and Yang insist they selected the name because they liked the general definition of a yahoo: "rude, unsophisticated, uncouth." Yahoo! itself first resided on Yang's student workstation, Akebono, while the software was lodged on Filo's computer, Konishiki - both named after legendary sumo wrestlers.
(From the Yahoo! site)
Yahoo!'s traffic consisted of a record 1.25 billion page views per day on average during September 2001 and had more than 210 million unique users worldwide during the same month. According to the company, "Yahoo! is the most recognized and valuable Internet brand globally, reaching over 200 million unique users in 24 countries and 12 languages."