Silicon Valley's Yahoo diaspora mourns company's decline

Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:49pm EDT
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By Deborah M. Todd and Jeffrey Dastin

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Former Yahoo executive Dan Rosensweig has not worked at the pioneering internet company in nearly a decade.

But last week, as Yahoo Inc YHOO.O prepared to sell its core internet business, he was sporting a Yahoo T-shirt and, in an interview, reveled in memories of the company's heyday, along with the deep impact its alumni had - and still have - in shaping Silicon Valley.

He recalled a workforce that believed "they were doing something that mattered: bringing people information," said Rosensweig, the company's chief operating officer from 2002 until 2007. "I hire as many ex-Yahoos as I can, because I know their commitment, their talent."

Rosensweig - now CEO of the online education company Chegg Inc (CHGG.N: Quote) - is one of scores of executives around Silicon Valley who still "bleed purple," as many Yahoo alums put it, despite the company's more recent instability and decline.

In the formative years of the web, Yahoo was the biggest, richest internet upstart in Silicon Valley, and it incubated a generation of executives. Now, as a sale and possible dismemberment of the company looms, a wave of sorrow and nostalgia is reverberating through the Yahoo diaspora.

"People are sad," said President Jennifer Dulski, who left Yahoo in 2007 after nearly a decade. "Until it really is over, a lot of us believe there will be a chance for resurgence."

She compared the emotions surrounding the auction to "when your parents sell your childhood home."

Launched in 1994 by two Stanford graduate students, Jerry Yang and David Filo, Yahoo in its early years was the destination of choice for many making their first forays into the world wide web. The company soared, and then crashed in the first dot-com bubble - and then emerged from the rubble as one of the few internet companies with substantial revenues and profits.   Continued...

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer delivers her keynote address at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada in this January 7, 2014, file photo. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/Files