In January 1994, Stanford graduate students Jerry Yang and David Filo created a website named “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web”. Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web was a directory of other web sites, organized in a hierchary, as opposed to a searchable index of pages.
In April 1994, “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web” was renamed “Yahoo!”. “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle” is a backronym for this name, but Filo and Yang insist they selected the name because they liked the word’s general definition, as in Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift: “rude, unsophisticated, uncouth.”
By the end of 1994, Yahoo! had already received one million hits. Yang and Filo realized their website had massive business potential, and on 2 March 1995, Yahoo! was incorporated on 12 April 1996, Yahoo! had its initial public offering, raising $33.8 million dollars, by selling 2.6 million shares at $13 each.
“Yahoo” had already been trademarked for barbecue sauce, knives by EBSCO Industries and human propelled watercraft by Old Town Canoe Company. Therefore, in order to get the trademark, Yang and Filo added the exclamation mark to the name. However, the exclamation mark is often incorrectly omitted when referring to Yahoo!