Chinese American Hero: Jerry Yang

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This is Week 9 of AsianWeek’s salute to Chinese American Heroes, and this week, we are going to talk about entrepreneurs, people who start businesses which create many American jobs and upon which even the biggest multinational corporations are based. So who are the Chinese American entrepreneur heroes and heroines?

There have been many Chinese American entrepreneurs who have started small to medium enterprises and in these tough times we wish there were more people like them. A few have even introduced new technologies that have revolutionized business. Our first entrepreneur is a genius named An Wang. Dr. Wang introduced the world to word processing through the equipment he first produced. Today, it might not seem like such a big deal, but before the days of word processing, generating a finished document was a tedious and time intensive process. The end product usually still had minor errors that everyone had to overlook, because perfectly editing a document oftentimes meant retyping entire pages. Word processing increased office productivity more than any other technology in the 20th Century and it continues to be an extremely valuable technology in desktop publishing and creating Internet blogs. We can credit this great productivity tool to Dr. An Wang.

You will read about a few other people you’ve probably never heard about. Those names include Dr. Albert Yu, John J. Sie, Pauline Alker, David Lam, and a young fellow you should know, Jerry Yang. All of these contributors introduced new technology that increase productivity and created many jobs held by Americans and people around the world. We salute all of them and encourage you to read their stories in AsianWeek and visit our other heroes and heroines at www.chineseamericanheroes.org

jerry-yangName in English: Jerry Yang
Name in Chinese: 杨致远[楊致遠]
Name in Pinyin: Yáng Zhìyuǎn
Gender: Male
Birth Year: 1968
Birth Place: Taiwan
Current location: Los Gatos, CA
Philanthropy: Yes

Co-founder of Yahoo! Inc.

Profession(s): Entrepreneur, Business Leader

Education: BS and MS in Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, On indefinite leave from PhD program in Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

Awards: 1998, Visionary Award, SDForum; 2005, Outstanding Asian American Entrepreneurship Award, Asia Society; 2007, National Leadership Award for Entrepreneurship, Merage Foundation for the American Dream.

Contribution(s): Born in Taiwan, Jerry Yang lost his father when he was two. Afterwards, his widowed mother and the rest of his extended family immigrated to the US in 1970. Yang said the only English word he knew at the time was “shoe.” By the time he reached high school in San Jose, California, he was studying in Advanced Placement English classes. While studying at Stanford University, he and his partner, David Filo, developed one of the first effective search engines to find information on the Internet. The site soon became so popular that administrators at Stanford complained about university servers being so overwhelmed with web traffic that the entire system was crashing. They were ordered to move. Seeing a business opportunity the pair co-founded Yahoo! in 1995 while Yang was still a Ph. D. candidate. Subsequently, he took an indefinite leave of absence from Stanford. Yahoo! soon drew millions in venture capital and was built into one of the world’s most highly trafficked websites and well-known business names. Yang became one of the most successful Chinese American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, calling himself “Chief Yahoo” in preference to the usual title of CEO when he was promoted to the position in June 2007. In January 2009, he resigned the position of CEO but retained the title of Chief Yahoo and remained on the board of directors. He is also on the board of directors of a number of companies including Cisco Systems, Yahoo! Japan, and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., as well as the non-profit foundation, the Asian Pacific Fund. He is also a trustee of Stanford University and a member of the Committee of 100, a Chinese American organization that promotes US and Chinese business relationships.
Jerry and his wife, Akiko, support multiple Bay Area education and arts organizations, such as the Asian Art Museum, East Asian Library (UC Berkeley), and San Francisco Ballet. Jerry and Akiko are also co-chairs of the $1B Campaign for Undergraduate Education at Stanford, their alma mater, to which they have personally pledged $75 million. Much of this money has gone into building the “Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building” at the university.

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