Yahoo Turns 25: Dedicated super users look back on mail, news

By Reta Lee and Teng Yong Ping

This story is part of a series to celebrate Yahoo's 25th birthday. Thanks for joining us along this wild, wonderful ride.

Yahoo started as the internet’s first popular directory and search engine when it was founded in 1995. Although other search engines are also used nowadays, many users continue to visit the Yahoo site for Yahoo Mail as well as its news content – including verticals such as Yahoo News, Yahoo Lifestyle and Yahoo Finance.

Yahoo Mail was first launched in 1997, and serves 186 million users globally as of November 2019, according to Comscore. Last September, alongside a new logo rehaul, Yahoo announced a new version of its Mail app. Now at version 6, the revamped Yahoo Mail is carefully designed to reduce clutter in your inbox and to empower you to take full control of what you receive so that you can focus on what truly matters.

As Yahoo celebrates its 25th birthday (we were incorporated on 2 March, 1995), to take a look at how Yahoo has changed our lives so far, Yahoo Lifestyle SEA spoke to several super users in Southeast Asia, who shared with us their news-reading and email habits, down to using the app to write to loved ones or pitching a business idea. 

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Yahoo Mail

Kelvin Anthony, a creative director in his 30s based in Malaysia, started using Yahoo Mail in the early 2000s even though he was a member since 1998. He remembers using his email for work or college, and the one event that stood out for him was, when “I had some interactions with a few Michael Jackson fans from around the world using email.” That’s an e-pen-pal for you.

As a creative director, Anthony mainly uses email to liaise with local Malaysian artists like Point Blanc, Sasi the Don, V.E, MC Syze, K Town Clan for work projects, and those projects were successfully launched. Till today, he shares his email address with friends and prospects, as he uses Yahoo Mail as his primary work email. 

Business owner Galvin Tan, 44, has been using Yahoo Mail since 1998. “Yahoo Mail was my second web-based email account that I've registered and I've been actively using it until today. Yahoo Mail is very important to me, personally and professionally. I have applied for jobs and received job offers with it. I've also landed my first business deal and sponsorship deal using the same email as well, of which I'm still using it to communicate with my client and sponsor until today,” he shares. Not just for work, Tan remembers sending love messages to his loved one via email: “Yahoo Mail is also very personal to me as I am using it to communicate with my loved one.”

Screenshot of Wu's email in 2008. (PHOTO: Simone Wu)

Simone Wu, 38, who is an associate editor of a women's magazine, signed up for Yahoo Mail in her poly days. She shares, “That must have been in either 1997 or 1998. And I remembered brainstorming for our ID names with my classmates. Thankfully, I went with an old nickname that still feels, in my opinion, quite current. Back then, there was no Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, so after I graduated from polytechnic, I used Yahoo Mail to keep in touch with my close friends.”

“We would update each other regularly on what's happening with our lives, love life, work life, and about new hobbies we are trying, and plan yoga sessions and parties. We would also share stories and promotions we have come across, get opinions on certain stuff we are working on and discuss ideas. Our letters are quite casual; we use our talking voice. When I reread our letters now, I must admit that I miss our carefree years and the intimacy of letter writing. I'm still in touch with some of my Yahoo Mail-writing friends, namely through WhatsApp, though I must admit, we don't talk as regularly as we used to,” Wu shared.

Work-wise, Wu uses Yahoo Mail as it is convenient: “I had also used Y! Mail for business letters, cold-calling editors and coordination work for TV productions. Now, I use Y! Mail as my go-to lifestyle email account, for travel itineraries, preschool matters, insurance issues, and newsletters from content and shopping sites. I also use it as a backup account when my other email accounts are down. I don't delete a lot of my mails on Y!, and at the moment, I'm at 6,733 mails in my inbox, with 720 unread.”

Yahoo News users

The Yahoo.com homepage is displayed on a computer screen in New York, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 8, 2008. (PHOTO: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News/Getty Images)

Bryan Tan, 31, a freelance writer in Singapore, has been using Yahoo since he began using the internet when he was 11 years old. Today, he still checks the news on the Yahoo site a few times every day. “I started using Yahoo when I got my first computer, a Compaq Presario, in 2000, when 56K modems made a heck of a lot of noise,” said Tan.

He added, “I enjoy the diverse content that Yahoo News puts out and the different angles and styles by Yahoo's writers and news partners. I enjoy the inclusivity most about Yahoo as a brand, and the fact that Yahoo never shies away from putting out articles with alternative views.”

Frederick Ee, 40, a Singaporean medical doctor, started using Yahoo in the 1990s with Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Search and the now defunct web-hosting site GeoCities which was acquired by Yahoo.

“I read the news on Yahoo practically daily on my mobile!” said Ee. “The topics are quite wide and the comments are rather funny at times. The content is free and ads are not overwhelming.”  

32-year-old Thavachelvan, a business owner in Singapore, started using Yahoo since his primary school days, when “Yahoo Search was the go-to.”

“Yahoo Mail was my first ever email account,” said Thava. “I also used Yahoo Messenger during my studying days, up to junior college, I believe.”

Thava checks the Yahoo portal three or four times a days for the news. “I exclusively use Yahoo on my mobile phone. I like the carousel news banner, which I can swipe through to read interesting content. I honestly feel it has the right balance of content: local news, local politics, world affairs, and some celebrity content. I also particularly like the content on local politics – I feel Yahoo News is quite independent and does not necessarily follow the mainstream media messaging. It says it as it is, it's more real to me. Also, I like being able to read the news without annoying pop-up ads. I feel you guys do it right without going overboard.”