Oral History of Tim Koogle

Interviewed by Marc Weber, with Len Shustek, on 2013-12-16 in Mountain View, California, X7037.2014

Tim Koogle served as founding CEO of Yahoo!, guiding the company's growth from $0 to well over $1 billion in revenue in six years, and from a start-up venture to a publicly traded and profitable company.

A Virginia native, Koogle is the son of a machinist and mechanic. He put himself through college repairing cars and tractors. He attended Stanford for his doctorate in mechanical engineering, and founded his first business around preparing Porsche engines for the race track.

After Stanford he founded a company that manufactured equipment for electronic manufacturing companies, and then joined Motorola, where he rose through the management ranks. He left to join Western Atlas, an automated data collection and communications systems manufacturer located in Seattle, Washington, that had (earlier) invented bar code symbols. He then ran its subsidiary Intermec corporation.

From Intermec, Koogle was recruited by Yahoo! founders David Filo and Jerry Yang as the first chief executive officer and president in March 1995, a month before the company went public. As CEO, he kept tight rein on the young company's expenses in an era known for excess. The assets he built up let Yahoo! aggressively acquire companies as a way to expand services and fight off mounting competition. Under his leadership, the firm refined features such as personalized home pages, stock quotes, chat rooms, and free email, in addition to its core Web directory services. By 1998 Yahoo! had expanded Yahoo!'s into 14 countries, with 30 percent of its traffic coming from outside North America.

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