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Yang tells Google founders to enjoy it

Despite their escalating search-engine war, the Yahoo co-founder tells Sergey Brin and Larry Page to relish their success.

SAN FRANCISCO--Jerry Yang has some advice to the two Stanford graduates now running archrival Google--enjoy it while it lasts.

Speaking during the Web 2.0 conference, the Yahoo co-founder said he told Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to relish their success. While his company and Google are in an escalating war to control the commercial search business, Yang still gave them kudos for making an impact on the Internet.

"I said to them, 'I hope they enjoy it,' because starting a company to this stage is a tribute to their vision and their leadership," Yang said. "To see what they've done is truly amazing."

Like Brin and Page, Yang and fellow Stanford classmate David Filo started a Web site that has become one of the most visited places on the Internet. One company went public this summer, becoming the most anticipated tech IPO since the crash. The other company was a poster child of the dot-com boom that watched its fortunes, and its stock, take a roller-coaster ride.

Yang pointed out that one difference between the companies was that Google had more time to germinate before going public, while Yahoo went public a year after the company launched. In retrospect, Yang thought the company may have gone public too fast.

Yahoo launched in 1995 and went public in 1996, months after Netscape Communications' IPO shepherded in the dot-com boom era. Google went public as a highly profitable company, and resisted an IPO for many years.

"I don't know if I would have taken Yahoo public as early as we did," Yang said. "I would have waited if (I) could."

But 1996 was a different time than today. Back then, Internet companies could go public to raise capital without showing profitability. Other "search engine" competitors such as Excite, Lycos and Infoseek were breathing down its neck as well.

Now with Yahoo three years out of its doldrums from the collapse of the dot-com bubble, Yang said the company is trying to look toward the horizon again.

"In the downturn when we were focusing on survival, we took our eyes off the emerging trends that were starting to take off," Yang added. "That's something we learned never to do again."