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*Yahoo Founder Talks About Next Wave

New York–Jerry Yang, founder of Yahoo, addressed “stickiness” and “private communities” on the Web during his keynote address at the Jupiter Consumer Online Forum held here yesterday and told attendees the reason Yahoo has managed to pull ahead of other search engines, even in its early stages of development.

Yahoo gave online users what they wanted, he told the audience of Internet professionals and DMers in referring to the launch of the company, and that was more than just search and directory services.

“In mid-1996 we started thinking about incorporating third-party content that was feedable, searchable and customizable,” he said. “People wanted stock quotes, news and yellow pages and we started to incorporate these things for them. We realized that to make the site sticky we had to personalize it.”

A year later, Yang said, Web communities began to play a major role on the Web, which is what led to Yahoo’s decision to acquire 411. He said the acquisition gave them a platform for person-to-person communication.

“This drove traffic up again for us and we again pulled ahead of our competitors,” he said.

With the rapid development of e-commerce Yang said it was obvious that the importance and role of the Web was about to dramatically change the way people used it. And he said the main thing Yahoo wanted to do was to make the shopping experience as easy and as personalized as possible for consumers.

“‘Does the user benefit from the decisions we make?’ is the question we ask whenever we do anything,” Yang said.

Yang believes the hot issue currently making waves on the Web is personal publishing, which he feels is a key ingredient to developing online communities and increasing the number of users.

“This is the next big paradigm shift taking place on the Web,” he said. “There are two types of communities. The public community where you have chat rooms, and the private communities where you have the private clubs and instant messaging. The notion of private communities is a notion that has not yet had its full potential tapped.”

More than anything, the growing number of intelligent Web users is what is determining what most companies are currently doing on the Web, including Yahoo. According to Yang, people no longer just go on the Web and surf. He said they now have an agenda and go only where they need to and if that information is not provided you are one click away from them never returning.

“We will be passed up by our competitors if we do not add value to what we are providing them with,” he said. “Not only us but our partners must do that as well. It is easy to say that but it is very hard to do.”

In closing Yang said that the most important things to do for developing stickiness for a Web site is to think about what people want to get done and how you can remove the barriers that keep them from doing them.

“The future is going to revolve around the user,” he said.

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