Tag Archives: Yahoo

BJ Heinley and his shrink wrapped Yahoo machine

I wrote the following colum in June 1998, a time before Yahoo needed to buy its cool.



by Mike Cassidy

Mercury News Columnist

BJ Heinley knew when he heard about the contest that he wanted his truck wrapped bumper to bumper in purple plastic and Yahoo logos.

Yahoo is where he worked. It was like family. His community. A group that brought him in when he had few other places to go.

“It’s kind of like being passionate about the Dallas Cowboys, ” he says, “or the Bulls.”

Kind of. But it’s a company. A workplace. Which in Silicon Valley can be like the Dallas Cowboys or the Bulls. Logos sprout on clothes, caps, even derrieres. (It’s a tattoo thing.)

So, he entered the company-wide contest, writing an e-mail explaining why his truck should be a Yahoomobile. His argument?

“Surface area, ” says Heinley, who commutes from Belmont to Santa Clara. “I have the biggest car I know of in the parking lot, and I drive up 101 every day.”

He had a point and a 1975 International Harvester Travelall — a behemoth that could go tire to tire with a Chevy Suburban. A vehicle that seats how many?

“If you seat people in the back, ” says Carrie Heinley, BJ’s wife, “there is almost no limit.”

BJ won. The Travelall was shrink-wrapped like a county bus — Yahoo! on its sides, on its hood. People loved it. They honked. They waved. They left resumes on the windshield.

“You get attached to a car, ” BJ, 27, says. “The way it moves, especially an older car.”

He bought the Travelall for $1,000 after moving from Texas. Coming to California was a dream. The Travelall was part of it.

“It fit into this idea, ” BJ says, “of the ultimate beach car.”

When his first job didn’t work out, he called the only local person he knew, a Yahoo manager. Yahoo hired him to do graphics. Then the company shrink-wrapped his truck.

But people grow. Times change. The honks and waves and cheers, well, they can get old.

“Eventually, it kind of stops being fun, as much fun, ” says Carrie, 27, a gardener, whose work truck is sprayed with sand to look like, well, a sand pile. “I guess it’s kind of like we outgrew it.”

It was time to sell. But who would buy a Barney on wheels? BJ pondered that very question aloud one day when he ran into Yahoo! co-founder David Filo in the company lunch line.

“You can’t let go of that car, ” BJ says Filo told him.

Heinley politely suggested — the way you might politely suggest to your gazillionare boss — that Filo put his money where his mouth is. And, in a way, Filo did. The company agreed to buy Heinley’s truck for $2,000.

Now, Heinley is hunting for his next wheels. He thinks maybe a classic convertible.

“I probably won’t make it a Yahoomobile.”

How could he? For Heinley there will never be another.



1 Comment

Filed under Silicon Valley History, Silicon Valley Life

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer invents new drinking game at Davos: When she says “mobile,” take a shot

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer joined the proud tradition of valley CEOs travelling halfway around the world before opening up to provide an interesting interview about what’s going on at their companies.

Switzerland Davos ForumAh, Davos. Bloomberg Television is calling its Swiss sit-down with the rock star CEO at the World Economic Forum as her first one-on-one interview since becoming CEO. For the time-challenged, here’s a brief summary of the half-hour interview: mobile, mobile, mobile. She said “mobile” a lot.

“I think there are amazing things you get to see all the time,”  all kinds of amazing technologies on mobile,” Mayer said concerning  what technology excites her. “When you think about what it means to be location sensitive…Some of these are very basic in terms of things like being able to check in, so there’s Foursquare, but if you actually know where people are and where they check in, there are all sorts of sophisticated and interesting thing you can go on to do.”

But Mayer made it clear that Yahoo wasn’t going to be doing those sophisticated and interesting things on its own. Maybe it was the Swiss air, but Mayer was all about alliances when she talked to Bloomberg TV’s Erik Shatzer about Yahoo’s mobile strategy. (They do so have one.)

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Silicon Valley Business, Silicon Valley Life

Memories of Yahoo’s Jerry Yang

Back when Yahoo was just getting started, I interviewed Jerry Yang, who’d just bought a new suit, and David Filo.
As I recall they were in bare feet and eating burritos wrapped in foil. Sleeping bags were stashed under their desks. Here’s the column:

Web Headline:
Reporter: By MIKE CASSIDY, Mercury News Staff Writer
Day: Sunday
Print Run Date: 5/12/96
Section: Front
Edition: Morning Final
Page Number: 17
Section Letter: A
Memo: See related stories on pages 1A, 17A
Text: Cruising the halls of Silicon Valley’s high-tech companies in search of fashion tips is a little like calling Howard Stern for a few pointers on etiquette.

While it is said the tradition of Dress Down Friday started in Silicon Valley, for many companies here, dressing down would be dressing up. They may be Fortune 500 material, but Fashion 500? No way.

“It’s in our DNA not to dress up, ” says Guy Kawasaki, Apple Computer Inc.’s in-house product evangelist who has a decided preference for T-shirts.

It apparently all started with Hewlett and Packard, was embraced by Jobs and Wozniak and is being carried on by Yang and Filo. Yeah, Jerry Yang and David Filo, the founders of Yahoo!, a Sunnyvale Internet search company. A statistical profile of the two:

Combined age: 57

Combined value of stock held at close of Yahoo’s first trading day: $330 million.

Combined number of suits owned: 1.

“I’ve been a T-shirt and jeans person most of my life, ” says Yang, 27, the suit’s owner. Yang, who prefers socks to shoes in the office, walked over to the futon mattress scrunched against his cubicle wall, flipped aside a rumpled blanket and held up two nice sweaters.

“I’ve got a couple pair of khakis, ” he added for good measure.

It helps to have a flexible wardrobe at a start-up where people sometimes work all night.

“I think we tend to dress more casually on Fridays, ” says Jennifer Hunn, brand manager at Yahoo!, “shorts, thrasher clothes. Some people wear the same clothes every day.”

Same style, right?

No. Same clothes.

But you have to understand this valley is different. More than a few companies have been started by entrepreneurs right out of college – and college is what guided the corporate culture.

“We refer to our buildings as a campus, ” says Deborah Yarborough, senior human resource manager at Silicon Graphics in Mountain View. This from a company that names meeting rooms after Warner Bros. cartoon characters and old 1960s television shows.

“It’s the idea of continuous learning, of having the ability to question authority, of being passionate about ideas.”

Clothes just aren’t as important as the ideas.

Which is not to say there is no dress code in the high-tech world. Greg Stikeleather – who just sold aha! software, his Mountain View start-up, to Microsoft – said he can tell where he is by the way people are dressed. In Silicon Valley, it’s jeans and a polo shirt. At Microsoft in Seattle, it’s Patagonia, North Face and Lands End. And in San Francisco?

“When you go up into the city, to multimedia gulch, there is a lot more black, ” says Stikeleather. “If you’re dealing with multimedia there is a lot more leather in your wardrobe.”

Calling Howard Stern.

Illustration: Photo
Attire is casual for Robert Killer, Mark Stadler, Celeste Fowler, Dan Baum, Mark Young and Heather Wright at Silicon Graphics.
[960512 FR 17A 2]
Word Count: 485
Series Name:

Prev Record Next Record

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized