The company was founded in 1994 by electrical engineering graduate students Jerry Yang and David Filo, as a directory of hierarchically organized websites. The company has grown rapidly ever since and made many high-profile acquisitions, becoming one of the most well-known brands in the world, despite various ups and downs. As of November 2016, Yahoo websites cumulated more than 205 million unique visitors per month, making Yahoo the second-most popular multi-platform web property in the United States, after Google and Facebook. Yahoo Mail is one of the most popular e-mail providers after Google’s Gmail.
Aside from its headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, Yahoo has offices in multiple countries, provinces, and territories and, as of 2016, 8,500 full-time employees around the world, some 5,600 less than it had in 2011. The company’s operating expenses of all its facilities and services totaled 5.8 billion U.S. dollars in the 2016 fiscal year. Also in 2016, Yahoo!'s net loss amounted to 214 million U.S. dollars, having dropped from previous year’s value of 7.5 billion. The company's 2016 revenue was a reported 5.2 billion U.S. dollars, an increase in comparison to 2015 numbers of almost 5 billion U.S. dollars but no match for the Yahoo's all-time revenue high of 7.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2008.
Yahoo’s financial troubles, as well as those of other similar web companies, are in part due to Google’s almost complete domination of various market sectors, such as the search engine market. Although Yahoo Search is still considered competitive and has millions of users around the world, as of January 2017, just over 3 percent of worldwide internet users search the web using Yahoo’s service, while more than 89 percent use Google’s. Yahoo also generates revenue from advertising through various programs and platforms, such as APT from Yahoo or Panama. Search and display advertising currently generate the majority of Yahoo's revenues. As of February 2017, U.S. telecom giant Verizon has offered to acquire Yahoo, despite multiple revelations of hacks to the internet company's databases. Currently, Yahoo has the dubious honor of leading the ranking of the most compromised data records in selected data breaches worldwide. In June 2017, Verizon Communications completed its acquisition of most of Yahoo's internet business for $4.48 billion, excluding its stakes in Alibaba Group and Yahoo! Japan which were transferred to Yahoo's successor company Altaba.