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Zuckerberg Credits Junior High Surfing on Yahoo for Inspiration

Facebook Inc. co-founder Mark Zuckerberg drew inspiration for the world’s most popular social-networking site from an unexpected place, according to the video being shown to would-be investors in the company’s initial public offering.

Zuckerberg kicks off the video by saying he was a big fan of Yahoo! Inc. when he was in middle school. Yahoo, along with Google Inc., was his search engine of choice for scouring the Web.

“It was this complete symbol of the age in which we live where now you have access to all of this information,” he said.

Zuckerberg, who was 11 when Yahoo sold shares to the public in 1996, is now preparing for an IPO that will probably value his company at close to $100 billion. That’s about five times Yahoo’s value. In terms of sales, Zuckerberg’s almost caught up to the site he idolized: Facebook’s $4 billion in revenue over the past year trails Yahoo by just $1 billion, reported on its Tech Blog.

While Zuckerberg, a celebrated 27-year-old college dropout, is on the road selling the world’s biggest investors on his company’s greatness, Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Scott Thompson is embroiled in a crisis surrounding his resume, which falsely stated that he graduated college with a degree in computer science.

Now Thompson’s job is on the line, something his predecessors can relate to. The 54-year-old joined Yahoo in January, becoming its fourth CEO since Zuckerberg started Facebook in 2004. Thompson was hired months after Carol Bartz was unceremoniously fired, and tasked with figuring out the future of a company that was bleeding talent and lacking coherent direction.

Long Gone

The Yahoo that Zuckerberg grew up with looked very different, more closely resembling the Facebook of today. The Web portal’s co-founders, Jerry Yang and David Filo, were computer geeks who started the site as a project at Stanford University. And like Zuckerberg, they were heavily involved in the company’s strategy and product development.

Those days are long gone. For Zuckerberg, the cool site he loved to navigate the Web in middle school may now serve as an example of how not to grow up.

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