In 1995, I met Dave Filo over dinner at a little Italian restaurant in Mountain View, CA. I was at SGI and we were trying to sell him servers. At the time, SGI had the baddest, most scalable web servers, used by the highest trafficed website on the planet - Netscape. Fortunately for Yahoo, they decided to go with servers based on open source and Intel.
At the time the #1 worry keeping him up at night was trying to stay on top of the growth of the Internet. He was losing sleep over it (in general, he didn't sleep much - you could tell by the redness in his eyes). Yahoo's original model of having humans create directories was not going to scale. They could have bought Google. They should have bought Google! It was right in front of their noses. But still, I have no doubt that Dave Filo will keep plugging away. He leads by example - sets the tone and the culture. No ego, not even on the board, but he remains their spiritual leader (at least amongst the engineers).
BTW, this is what Mike Moritz said about the Google investment published in an interview in 2004:
"Google, had originally been introduced to us by a guy called David Filo, who is one of the cofounders of Yahoo. David had liked Larry and Sergey, knew them from Stanford, was trying to help them. And maybe in 1996 or so, both of them were still working on some thesis project at Stanford and had come by and visited. We had a nice sort of inconclusive meeting and they disappeared and we didn't hear anything more for a couple of years. Then word got around that they were thinking about starting a company.
The Yahoo guys were very encouraging, thinking that it would be beneficial to everybody if we were to become investors in Google, because search, and having a healthy panoply of different search vendors, was a very important thing for Yahoo. Yahoo had used AltaVista, Yahoo had used OpenText, they'd used Inktomi. They were interested in having a really fertile field of healthy suppliers from which to pick. And it was pretty obvious, too, even a few years ago, that along with mail, finding stuff on the Internet—which was part of the original policy of the Yahoo investment that we made—was going to be an ever more important part of the business.
So the Yahoo investment acted as a lamplighter. David and Jerry were extremely helpful and supportive and encouraging us to become partners with Larry and Sergey, and one thing led to another."
- Mike Moritz, former Board Member of Yahoo and current board member of Google