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Srinija Srinivasan in Presidential Scholars panel

April 21, 2010 04:06 IST
President Barack Obama last week appointed Srinija Srinivasan, one of the three co-founders of Yahoo! Inc, as a member of the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars.

Chandigarh-born Srinivasan, 40, vice president and editor in chief, Yahoo!, was a Presidential Scholar in 1989, an honor awarded to more than 100 high school students from across the United States annually.

President Obama, in naming Srinivasan and 11 others to the commission, said, 'I am grateful that these impressive men and women have agreed to serve this commission and help a new generation realize their potential and pursue their dreams.'
The White House said that Srinivasan, since joining Yahoo! 'as its fifth employee in 1995, Srinivasan has led a range of editorial and policy functions, beginning with the organization and evolution of the Yahoo! directory. She has overseen network editorial standards and original content development, guided the company's corporate responsibility arm, and directed policy issues including privacy and data use, advertising standards, youth safety, community guidelines and accessibility.'

Before joining Yahoo!, Srinivasan was involved with the Cyc Project, a 10-year artificial intelligence effort to build a database of human commonsense knowledge. She chairs the board of trustees of SFJAZZ, a non-profit dedicated to promoting jazz music. She is also a member of the 2000 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute.

Srinivasan, an alumna of Stanford University, is a popular speaker and panelist at Indian-American events and also national women forums. She often regales audiences with tales of how she came to be a founder of Yahoo! along with two Stanford friends, David Filo and Jerry Yang, thanks to her accidental decision to study Japanese as a sophomore in 1989, instead of the Latin she had taken at school. She opted for Japanese since at the time Japan was the technology hub. She says, unfailingly to much laughter, that as a Tamil, she would have loved to have taken Tamil but unfortunately Stanford at the time didn't offer that.

After a couple of years of studying the rudiments of the Japanese language, she enrolled in a Stanford-organized six-month study program in Kyoto in 1992. She met Filo and Yang, two PhD students also from Stanford, and they became close friends. The rest, as they say, is history. Srinivasan has regularly been featured in The New York Times and Fortune magazine. In 2006, Newsweek named her as one of 'The Net 50.'
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC