Showing posts with label yahoo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yahoo. Show all posts

Thursday, February 14, 2008

On Leaving Yahoo…

Leaving Yahoo.

Yes, it's true. I've left Yahoo.

It was somewhat overwhelming sifting through the barrage of reactions over the last 48 hours: "Thanks for all you've done", "How could you?!", "Congrats!", etc. It's fascinating to watch people react. I've been taking it all in.

I want to use this post to explain some of the circumstances around my departure.

I came to Yahoo out of a startup that I helped found, and it was my first "real job." I literally expected to stay there one year. I thought it would be a good life experience to see first-hand how a successful, multi-billion dollar corporation operated. But I never expected to build a career there... to retire from Yahoo... or frankly to stay for a multi-year stint.

But this "park there for a year and learn" strategy was out the window in a day. There was such an excitement at Yahoo, and I was taken aback by the level of passion and talent there. This was no place to "park". And not aspiring to climb the corporate ladder there made it easy for me to be cavalier, call shit on stuff I thought was broken, and generally do what I thought was right.

What was most delightful is that I never got the expected "pushback" from management. Instead they were the wind at my back, pouring gas on the fire, inviting me and challenging me to do more and more provocative things. So in this manner, nearly four years flew by. I had a dream job that I had the luxury of creating for myself. It was a perfect fit between my inclinations and abilities, and Yahoo's needs at the time.

The name of the group I created at Yahoo is the Advanced Development Division, or ADD for short. I wanted to be VP of ADD. I was able to retrofit a reasonable acronym back onto the letters and got away with it. I'd generally say, "I head up the ADD group at Yahoo... We work on lots of things, for a little while..." That was generally good for a chuckle... but it's true, that's how the group was designed. (By the way, I don't know a lot about the actual syndrome ADD, and I don't mean to make light of it. Apologies if I am being crass or inappropriate... not my intention.) The point of this paragraph is simply that as VP of ADD, four years is a very long time for me to focus on anything! I am amazed and grateful that Yahoo continued to create circumstances for me that held my full interest and engagement... and hopefully allowed me to make the place a little bit better.

The question should not be "Why are you leaving?", but rather the rhetorical "Isn't it amazing and wonderful that Yahoo created circumstances that allowed you to stay for so long?!"

Starting to thank people is a very slippery slope. Apologies to everyone that I'm surely going to omit, and if you ping me I'll edit the post to try to atone for egregious errors. These are some of the folks that I feel compelled to call out and thank for making my experience at Yahoo so wonderful:

My heartfelt thanks to Eckart Walther, Jeff Weiner, Qi Lu, Raymie Stata, Prabhakar Raghavan, Kiersten Hollars, Dan Rosensweig, Chad Dickerson, Cindy, Kaigene Jau, Ethan Fasset, Joe Hyrkin, Ellen Salisbury, Marc Davis, Joshua Shachter, Wendy Pfeiffer, Doug Crockford, Tim Mayer, Joff Redfern, Meg Garlinghouse, Randy Farmer, Susan Mernit, Marco Boerries, Paul Levine, Jen Dulski, Lorna Borenstein, Scott Gatz, Gary Clayton, Caterina Fake, Salim Ismail, Ian Rogers, Larry Tesler, Joy Mountford, Irene Au, Zod, Phu, Venkat, Terry Semel, Brad Garlinghouse, Toby Coppel, Stewart Butterfield, Libby Sartain, Andrew Braccia, Mor Naaman, Tim Cadogan, Sam Pullara, Tom Coates, Jeremy Zawodny, Mike Marquez, Jeff Karnes, Pasha Sadri & the Pipes team, MyBlogLog team, Andy Baio & Upcoming, Arlo Rose, Sue Decker, Ash Patel, Jerry & Filo.

This is the tip of the iceberg. Yahoo is filled with brilliant, dedicated folks that have inspired me and been incredibly generous to me. Thank you.


Were you laid off?
Ha, I wish. Yahoo provided very humane (even generous) packages and accommodations for those folks. See next question...

Why now?
The timing is a bit unfortunate. I wish I were leaving with Yahoo on top of the world... it'd still be the right thing for me personally. So while the timing may look "suspicious", please don't project your own assumptions onto my decisions. I thought that since so many people were leaving on Tuesday, it'd be a good day for me to slip out unnoticed too.

What about your teams? What happens to Brickhouse?
The teams are in great shape. Salim is also gone, and I arranged to fold the Advanced Product and Brickhouse teams under the leadership of Chad Dickerson. They recently launched Yahoo Live! to much fanfare, and have several more fantastic products in the pipeline. Chad is the man. I have every confidence that the team will thrive under his tenure.

Part of why I feel able to leave is that the teams are rocking, and much of the change I aspired to bring to Yahoo is now baked into the culture. Yahoo has no single-point-of-failure, and I've thought a lot about succession planning. Yahoo and the initiatives I started (or care about) are gonna be just fine without me.

So you've lost faith in Yahoo's strategy, leadership, etc.?
Not in the least. I have been incredibly impressed by (and reasonably close to) the improvements and changes that Sue and Jerry have instituted in the past 6 months. While the search for a "silver bullet" came up short (hey, it was worth looking), I believe the management is doing all the right work to align the team to execute on the new strategy. And the strategy itself? I think it's spot-on, and has already made a huge impact on how the company identifies itself. When I joined 4 years ago, Yahoo was all about what transpired on "*". That part of Yahoo now self-identifies as our "O&O" (owned and operated) division... In the context of Yahoo's larger ambitions, it's extremely helpful to be a principal in the publishing space (and not just a principal, but amongst the web's largest)... but Yahoo has transformed itself into a company that participates and embraces the open internet ecosystem at large. Yahoo "gets it."

So you don't want to work for Steve Ballmer, eh?
I have no more insight into the current MSFT / YHOO discussions than any avid reader of the NYT, WSJ, etc. Given my trajectory, I honestly haven't invested a lot of time or energy wondering which scenarios would play out best for Yahoo. I have faith that Yahoo's board and management will optimize for the best possible outcome.

What will you be doing at Google?
We'll save that for another post. What's unfolded for me over the last few months while thinking about my next steps has been amazing and surprising... I'm excited about the my next step, and thrilled I'll be working with a stellar team that I'm sure will teach me a lot.

Thank you Yahoo!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gatz hands the baton to Dickerson…

Scott and Chad crosspost and tell the tale: Scott's story & Chad's story. I'm honored to work with these guys. Two of the classiest individuals I've had the pleasure to know. Scott, you'll be missed... and thanks for everything from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yahoo Plugin for WordPress

As reported by Battelle, we just launched the Yahoo Plugin for WordPress. This blog,, runs on WordPress.

The plugin is very cool. You simply author the post as you normally would. You click a 'lil button that says "Review this Post"... and all kinds of valuable goodness auto-populates the post.

For instance if I name a place, say Ann Arbor, MI, that'll be auto-detected and linked to...

If I mention a company, say Hewlett-Packard, then that too will generate goodness (I've opted for the badge at left...)

You can read more about it (and get it for yourself) here....

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Me v. Ze Frank (not so much…)

Gordon Luk has a really interesting post that I'll use as a launching pad to clarify a point I often make in public lectures... In the interest of saving you a click, see below.
This reminded me of Umair's article "Why Yahoo Didn't Build MySpace..." which basically suggests that the pyramid of participation I reference is a Yahoo "strategy." Nothing could be further from the truth. Destroying that pyramid is our strategy. The pyramid is more of a forensic, backward-looking empirical observation. The very next slide in the deck is also shown below.

Lesson: Of course, I take full responsibility for these misunderstandings. Gordon and Umair are brilliant guys. So as I'm dishing out soundbites, maybe I need to slow down and make sure that I'm clearer...

Gordon says:

Do you ever have posts sitting around in wordpress for months at a time, delayed for one reason or another? This is one of them, and after re-reading it, I think I’ll go ahead and post it, but remember that it’s kind of a warp back in time to October 2006.

Yahoo! Open Hack Day was a massive, massive success, and i’m glad to have been a part of it. Now that i’ve had a few days to rest and reflect upon my experiences, I want to discuss an observation of Bradley Horowitz’s that has stuck in my mind.

Bradley’s one of the foremost advocates for social search development here at Yahoo. He’s one of the brightest minds around, and always makes my head spin a little bit when I talk with him. You can check out his Keynote presentation here (warning, this was 4GB to download!). Around the end of minute five, Bradley says some really interesting stuff. First, he showed the famous grainy video clip of a monkey trained to perform martial arts kicks in the context of what the worst-case scenario behind user-filtered content could produce. Then he went on to show some beautiful photographs from Flickr’s Interestingness, as a way to demonstrate the better side of what can be efficiently extracted from collaborative participation. His point that these photos bubbled to the top because of implicit user activity is key; as he mentions, the aggregate human cost of photo moderation borne by the user community on Flickr dwarfs anything possible by simply paying employees to review and rate them.

Ze Frank, seen in this video speaking at TED, a design conference, seems to also think hard about the new culture of participation on the Internet. Ze often invites his viewership to participate with him on various flights of fancy, including making silly faces, creating short video clips, playing with flash toys and drawing tools, etc. During his TED presentation, and also at various times on The Show, Ze talked about the hold that various groups have on the perception of art, and how many people are able to participate and create in a new culture without being ostracized by an established hierarchy. He seems to hold that the “ugliness” which seems to permeate MySpace is, in fact, a manifestation of participation outside of the boundaries of hierarchical editorial control. Thus, his position seems to be that the silliness and ugliness of the huge amount of web “design” on myspace depends heavily on perspective. At the minimum, he seemed to believe that participation culture removes barriers to experimentation that could lead to an overthrow of traditional design aesthetics.

These perspectives seem to be at odds. On one side, Bradley appears to be advocating the harvesting of social participation to come to results that select traditionally valuable content. In other words, using New Media platforms to efficiently perform the job of the Old Media publishing empires (Kung Fu Monkeys should be buried!). On the other side is Ze, who seems to be advocating not only a disruption of Old Media distribution through mass publication, but also seems to be leading a charge to disrupt traditional aesthetic values (Kung Fu Monkeys are beautiful, and should be encouraged!).

I think it’s an interesting contrast, and I worry that i’m mischaracterizing the arguments of each.

My personal viewpoint is a bit more nuanced. I believe that one day, web platforms will also be able to efficiently cluster their users based upon interests or tastes, similar to how Flickr can cluster tags to disambiguate meaning. These clusters will probably be designed not around user surveys or self-reported demographics, but instead will most likely be extracted through efficient methods of recording implicit participation information over the long term. There may well be a cluster (which I would belong to!) of folks that do enjoy Kung Fu monkeys, and there is almost definitely a cluster that find it degrading and offensive. The difference here between traditional preference filtering and clustered audiences is similar - one requires a great deal of potentially inaccurate user feedback about their preferences, whereas the latter acts more on implicit activity, and is thus more likely to produce the desired effects.

Not only would such a model be able to try and target clusters of preferences among users, but it would also allow for users to participate in cultures in which they feel welcome from the beginning.

I responded:

My argument is not so much that Kung Fu monkeys = bad, or that they should be “buried.” But in a world where “anyone can say anything to everyone at once”, our most precious commodity becomes attention. I remember sitting at the Harvard Cyberposium Conference a few years ago when someone said… “It’s getting to the point where every moment of our life can now be digital recorded and preserved for posterity…. [pregnant pause…] Unfortunately, one doesn’t get a second life with which to review the first one.”

Coming up with the right tools to help me get to what matters to me becomes essential. But I don’t want to get prescriptive - what matters to the fans of Kung Fu monkeys is… Kung Fu monkeys! And we should be providing tools that help that community as much as any other…

Another way of putting it… I’m disinclined to subscribe the a Flickr feed for the tag “baby”. Just not interested in seeing random babies, thank you very much. But my brother’s baby? My neice? Cutest baby ever! I want to see every picture of her that exists!

Death to the monoculture and long live the long tail! Long live low-brow humor, stupid pet tricks and mentos and diet coke! And Ze Frank…

My point is that tools like Flickr interestingness allow us to leverage aggregate attention for the benefit of each user. I love interestingness, and use it as a sort criterion for just about every search I do on Flickr… But Flickr also uses a social graph with varying coefficients (me, family, friends, contacts, public) to provide another dimension that helps direct my attention to the right babies. ;-)

I think my thesis is simply that in democratizing the creation of content, we’ve created a high-class problem… There’s too much “on”… 500 channels, maybe. 500M channels? Never. The flip side of this wonderful revolution in publishing, destroying the hierarchical pyramid of participation, is that we (our industry) have a burden to provide people the means of actually getting to the content they want to see… (Perhaps sometimes, even before they know they want to see it.) This ought to keep us busy for a lifetime or so…

I think you captured my view pretty much in your closing paragraph. I’d guess Ze Frank agrees with us mostly too.

Relaunch of…

A couple weeks ago our team relaunched

Simply, it's a place where we can show you some cool stuff happening at Yahoo. I shared more on the yodel blog.

William White and team just launched this very cool embeddable music player there. Timely too... Now instead of just linking to MP3s like I did in a previous post, listening to my old band is now just click away (or even less than a click if I'd selected autoplay...)

Go subscribe to next to keep apprised of what we're up to over here...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Pipes release, iPhone support

As reported on the Pipes Blog, Jonathan and the Pipes team just pushed a new release with features both useful and cool. I'm especially thrilled about the iPhone support (having just gotten an iTouch, thanks Mr. Hornik!)

In keeping with the endless stream of jokes that name "pipes" inspires, Jonathan created what may turn out to be one of the most important and useful Pipe of all... The Restroom Locator... A tip of the hat to George Costanza, connaisseur of public restrooms... ;-)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Major improvements to Yahoo Search

Want to congratulate Jeff, Vish, Tim, Eckart, Luke and Tom and the cast of hundreds who launched the improvements to Yahoo Search last night. I've seen some folks in the blogosphere underestimate the nuance and ultimately impact of this innovation. Making a change this radical is a bona fide "big deal", and there is a lot of subtlety involved. I've been using it for a bit, and am duly impressed. Kudos to the gang.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Marc Andreessen on Employee Retention…

Well, not really. On winning.

I'm loving this post, and did my part to circulate it amongst the leadership here at Yahoo.

Marc's comments about innovation really resonated for me... People have often misconstrued my group's mission as being responsible for "innovation" at Yahoo. I've always hated this. Once a journalist said to me, "Oh... You guys are the engine of innovation..." I paused and said, "No... We're the grease of innovation... We're not about innovating for Yahoo, but rather creating a forum for every one of our employees to become better at their craft."

That's what things like Hack Yahoo, and Hack Days are about. A program like Brickhouse is more about giving every Yahoo an opportunity to get their ideas resourced (via something we've called a Brickhouse sabbatical), than it is about an "elite" segregated group of individuals doing it on behalf of the company.

Caterina, Chad and I used to always revert to musical analogies. We're like the roadies, building the stage, working the soundboards, the spotlights, etc. We also provide a "house band" of super talented session musicians. But it's the Yahoos (i.e. everyone else) who gets to climb up on stage and shine. Caterina, Salim and Scott are like the "A & R" folks at a label - listening for talent that we might want to "sign up" and bring back into the studio for an extended session.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Welcome Jerry, Yahoo’s new CEO!

Still digesting the news... but I am extremely optimistic about today's changes. Surprising myself how much in fact. But you'd need to know me to know this has everything to do with Jerry's entrance, not Terry's departure.

I am a huge Terry fan. Frankly I wish I'd had more occasion to interact with him directly, but every time I did I learned something... Terry is a brilliant, subtle, and generous leader... Watching him get beaten up in the press over the past year was excruciating. It was a very painful lesson in the "pile on" mentality of the popular press. It did however have the fringe benefit of forcing me to do an honest inventory of the company I've chosen to be at, our assets and liabilities, challenges and opportunities, etc. I've got a confidence now that is rooted in introspection. The new Yahoo needs committed, passionate individuals that not only "get it" but are willing to think long-term about the immense, world-changing opportunities at hand... The public thrashing we've taken and the weakness in YHOO over the last year has at least served to shake loose those that aren't here for the right reasons...

Having Jerry as our CEO is incredible... It was Jerry who personally "green lit" and funded Pipes (for instance)... When Caterina and I pitched it to him, he not only "got it," but explained it back to us in a framework that deepened our own understanding. Having Jerry as CEO is gonna be cool!

Also want to give a shout out to co-founder David Filo, who is 100% engaged (and has been continuously for more than a decade.) Filo just attended Yahoo's UK Hack Day, where he hung out at the venue interacting with hackers, supporting the event, acting as a judge, etc. Jerry and David are as passionate and involved as any founders I've seen at any company - startup or Fortune 500.

Terry, it's too soon for goodbyes and thank yous... I'm extremely psyched that you're staying plugged in and will serve as our Chairman in an ongoing way. Jerry, welcome back to (overtly) running your company and let's do this.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Next Open Hack Day!

I'm happy that I'll be attending Yahoo/BBC's upcoming Hack Day in the UK! Last year's inaugural Hack Day was a careeer/life hilight... This one looks to be another over the top event. It's in a "palace"... that sounds different! Check out the details at and on upcoming. See you there.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Tim said it better than I could ever hope to...

I'm really proud that our team has launched Pipes tonight. It's still raw with plenty of rough edges... and it'd surprise me if more than a few folks will be able to connect-the-dots and see where this leads (... though Tim's explaining will surely help!) Still, it was time and the concept is "ready enough" to unleash IMHO.

My parents just arrived in the Bay Area, and so tonight I'll focus on them. In the upcoming days, I hope I'll find time to share why I'm so excited about Pipes and proud of the team. In the meantime, go smoke a pipe!

(BTW, I recommend that you check out the "Apartments near Something" pipe for an example of a smokin' pipe.)

The team themselves are the best resources for more info:
- Pasha, who deserves all the credit for both the idea and leading the team,
- Edward, whose passion is matched only by his technical skill,
- Jonathan, the man behind what may be the slickest AJAX application on the web,
- Kevin, who joined recently but completely took the design to a new level in a matter of weeks
- and Daniel, without whom this would be just another great idea that never would have seen the light of day.

And the endeavor was a Caterina Fake production, as all the above are members of her TechDev team.

There were many other supporters and contributors, but I'll avoid the slippery slope of invoking them because I'm mostly clueless.

Jeremy explains it too....

Monday, January 8, 2007

MyBlogLog and Yahoo light up the blogosphere

Quentin was first and Chad gave the details here: we've acquired MyBlogLog!

I'm totally stoked about this. In describing MyBlogLog, Chad used an "audio analogy." That definitely works, but I prefer the visual one: as powerful as blogging has been, we've been blogging "in the dark." Being a blogger meant the best relationship one's got with her visitors is through her logs - "Oo oo! visited today at 11:04am!!!" And there's the comments of course, but we know only a fraction of visitors to the blog actually leave comments. See [1].

It's like we've been partying in the dark, and MyBlogLog turned on the lights! Now we can all see who's in the room.

Another analogy - the experience of reading blogs has been like attending a movie in the local metroplex. The cool thing about blogging is that it has democratized the process of making a movie. Now instead of just seeing blockbusters from the major studios, anyone can "make a movie." But the experience of consuming it is the same: a couple hundred strangers wander into a theater, the lights go down, and everyone faces the same direction staring at the screen. Protocol dictates little to no interaction with each other... (Isn't it annoying when there's a chatterbox in the next seat over?)

MyBlogLog turns on the lights, and invites people to look at (and dialog) with each other in addition to looking at the screen. Maybe the right analogy is a sports bar. The game is on the big screen providing the content and context. But the fun part is hooting and hollering with your mates, heckling the guys there to support the other team the next table over, etc. It's communal. It's interactive. It's participitory. It's fun.

[I've never been to a sports bar. Maybe I got that part wrong.]

This is a great way to start off 07. By the end of the month, we'll debut something equally interesting and impactful. What a great way to start off 07.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Yahoo buys Bix

I said it all over here.

So one thing to note... It turns out that the voice in my head does sound a lot better than the one that is being recorded. Something must be defective with the microphone, the Bix system, or whatever that keeps knocking it out of tune. Until I debug that system, I won't be posting any karaoke.

Also - we need to get some cooler songs into the Bix karaoke system.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Yahoo Open Hack Day: Hell Yes!

Well, that worked. :-)

As has been widely reported around the blogosphere, this weekend we pulled off Yahoo's first Open Hack Day.

The event was successful on so many levels it's hard to convey the way I feel. I will leave it to Chad, who deserves the credit for the event, to offer the official recounting. Beginning to thank people leads down a slippery slope, but I also want to call out Kiersten Hollars. Kiersten is purportedly in PR, but she basically ran point on just about every aspect of this event. Kiersten got almost no time in front of the spotlight, and my guess is that very few hackers who were there would even know who she is... But I assure you that the event could not have happened without her. Anyway, here are a few things that struck me...

  • The Developer Day trainings on Friday were incredible. The fact that Yahoo is offering its services (but in particular the YUI Libraries) to the world and getting our best and brightest on stage to offer their wisdom gratis is so cool. But here's someone who said it better than I possibly could:

    I attended yesterday’s workshops and was really blown away. Yahoo! is the shit. Seriously, where else can you get the downlow on PHP from the guy who wrote it, sit next to the person who started Flickr as you learn how to hack the Flickr API, and get a tutorial on the Yahoo UI platform library from the people who designed them and then rock out to a private Beck concert, replete with a live puppet show? Punk. Rock.

  • The event had the unanticipated but delightful effect of accelerating the release of a flurry of Yahoo API's. In the last week BBAuth, Photos, Flickr, Upcoming, Mail, etc. That is very cool.

  • Crowd at YahooFuckin' Beck! Beck totally got it. As far as I know, Beck isn't really on the "corporate event" circuit (to wit he headlined Shoreline's Download Festival on Saturday) and is probably peaking right now in terms of his popularity. (BTW I love the photo at left that combines the concert/corporate atmosphere.) The fact that he agreed to do this is a testament to the fact that he "gets it". The Beck show itself was filled with hackerly goodness (the meta-brilliance of the puppetshow projected behind the band, the on stage dinner party, etc.) After the show Beck took the time to walk around, check out the Hacks, interact with some hackers, etc. Beck (and his very cool band) were nothing but gracious and engaged. It was perfect.

  • Heather rocks Matt to sleepThe Open Hack Day logo. This was another labor of love, executed under tremendous pressure (t-shirts didn't arrive until the day of the event.) I think it's perfect. A visual pun - hacking code. Beck's folks loved it too and took a bunch. Hope they sport them!

  • Sleeping HackerThe all-night nature of the event was so cool. It was great to see the tents, but also hackers sleeping on couches, in booths, on the floor, etc. I remember so many all-nighters I pulled in my younger days... I remember being so immersed in code, I'd dream code. I remember tag-team coding sessions with Martin (and John Maeda.) I confess I was not able to pull and all-nighter and actually crashed (in a soft bed) between 1am-5am. Folks like Matt Biddulph stayed up all night, despite Heather's efforts to rock him to sleep...

  • The spontaneous teams that developed. People came from all over the country and many with no idea what they'd be building or who they'd be partnering with. And yet, folks found partners... At least one of these impromptu teams actually won an award.

  • Michael ArringtonMichael Arrington. It is friggin' hard to emcee these events. Mike did it with grace, composure, humor, panache... He lent his voice, his endorsement, his goodwill... Mike's involvement was another moving act of generosity and I'm personally grateful to him. Go read TechCrunch.

  • CrackerThe traditional media that covered the event mostly "got it wrong" but in a really endearing, adorable way. I'm referring mostly to the local television affiliates that sent anchor people in suits and ties and who needed explanations regarding the difference between "hackers" and "crackers." Hilarious. The blogosphere got it 99% right, mostly fueled by the bloggers that were onsite at the event. But there have been a tiny few that have speculated that this was a "Career Fair" in disguise, that it was all about Beck, that it was in some way disingenuous, etc. I could attempt to set the record straight but it's not worth wasting the keystrokes. To understand this event, you had to be there. If sadly you weren't, please take the time to talk to people that were rather than speculating. And not just the Yahoos... Talk to the folks who attended from Google, eBay, Microsoft, Adobe, etc., etc., etc.

  • Probably the best part about this is that we (my team) have the unequivocal support of Yahoo, across the org chart. An event like this doesn't fly under the radar. From the many, many (literally 100s) of folks that sacrificed their weekend to deal with countless last minute tasks (think stuffing welcome packets for 500), to the many teams whose toes we occasionally accidentally stepped on (only to have them turn around and offer unqualified assistance), to the huge support of our executives (Filo and Ash outlasted me on Friday night)... It's been an overwhelming show of support. Kris Tate said it best - we're a family. By the way, Kris's post impressed the hell out of me.

    Ash, Filo and BeckChad and I introduced Filo (who introduced Beck) on Friday night. As I said then... "We're literally hacking Yahoo... [crowd cheers] and now the man who is giving us the axe... Yahoo co-founder David Filo!" We couldn't do something like this without Filo's implicit support... (and since I don't work directly with David, "Filo" is a proxy for the "seniormost levels of Yahoo.) It's my boss Ash Patel that is really directly empowering us with the resource and permission to make these things happen. A special shout out to Jeff Weiner too - I wouldn't be at Yahoo but for his vision.

    The only negative Chad and I have been able to conjure: "This is gonna be hard to top." Good problem to have IMHO. We've already got some ideas :-)

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    It’ll be! is having its first birthday party (after three years.) It'll be fun! Joshua and the gang will be there in force, and you can ask him what it feels like to be an MIT Technology Review Innovator! If he's too busy, then you can ask Stewart!

    I'll be there too, basking in the afterglow of our Open Hack Day. If that wasn't a smooth enough segue, then you can check out Chad's favorites tagged with yhackday on here.

    And I would be remiss, dear hackers, if I didn't implore you to come to Open Hack Day. It's gonna be "off the hook" fun, cool, interesting, surprising... the list of people that are coming is already impressive and growing by the day. If you're a bona fide geek, hacker, nerd, coder, etc. then you will be kicking yourself come Monday morn when you read about what went down at this shindig. Check it out!

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Cool Flickr Geotagging Examples

    Stewart recently showed me some very cool (and in some cases surprising) Flickr geotagging examples. Here's a few I loved.

    Where is the neighborhood in Manhattan known as Tribeca?

    Get your kicks, on Route 66

    Food tour of Asia

    What I love about the "tribeca" and "route 66" examples is that they show emergent knowledge in the system. Collectively, the efforts of many photographers map out a geographic element... Neat.

    Thursday, September 7, 2006

    CapitalOne Summit

    Had the pleasure of speaking today at a CapitalOne summit in DC.

    Apart from the travel, I actually love doing these things. (I do wanna give JetBlue props though - pretty flawless service, and gotta love the TV. Watched the US Open while working.) Anyway, speaking with colleagues from Microsoft, Google and AOL, as well as CapitalOne, has been a really valuable experience.

    At Virage, we used to strive that every employee had some customer touch and engagement. At Yahoo, it's so easy to change roles and join the ranks of our 500m "customers"... Every employee is most certainly a "user" as well... But it's way too easy to not rub up against the third leg of the stool, our advertisers. Gonna do what I can to make sure that my teams get more exposure.

    AOL sent Ted Leonsis. Google sent Vint Cerf. MSN sent Joanne Bradford. Typically, DanR would have done this gig but he had prior obligations so I seized on the opportunity. It's been great.

    Here's some liveblogging of Ted Leonsis' talk:

    Leonsis: Ted Leonsis' secrets to happiness:
    - Relationships
    - Community
    - Self-expression
    - Giving back
    - Pursuing a higher calling

    Leonsis: "As marketers, you must leave more than you take. Gratitude is an unbelievably powerful concept. And saying thank you is an unbelievably powerful phrase."

    Leonsis: "The happiest group of people by these measures are evangelical christians."

    Leonsis: The Seven Web 2.0 virtues
    - be generous
    - it's good to share
    - politeness matters
    - be open
    - listen
    - respect individuals
    - dilligence wins

    IPTV is interesting not because of streaming, but because of on-demand possibilities a la iPod
    IPTV is interesting because of interpretations of packets v. dumb raster display

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Interesting(ness) post from O’Reilly

    Chad told me that Tim O'Reilly posted about interestingness today. I've been contemplating another post about interestingness for a while, and I was glad Tim beat me to the punch! Some of this I hope to discuss at the Adaptive Path UX conference Wednesday too.

    I've been starting out most talks that I've given lately by showing two examples of "user-generated content" back-to-back. First I show the numa-numa kid:

    Then I say something like, "As amusing as this is... does anyone else find this kinda depressing? If stupid human tricks, pratfalls, fratboy pranks and skateboarding dogs are the future of media... let me off the bus!"

    Then I say, "But fear not. This is also 'user-generated content'":

    Originally uploaded by Sevenof9FL

    Originally uploaded by Caleroalvero

    Originally uploaded by anetbat

    And I fire up a slideshow of the 100 most interesting photos on Flickr. It's hard to describe the unfailing impact that these photos have... they are alternately moving, funny, disturbing, provocative... I go on, "What's cool about these is that they are not only user-generated... They are also implicitly 'user-discovered'... It's not as if I spent a couple hours finding the 'good stuff' myself. The Flickr interestingness metric percolated the 'cream' to the top of the pile. By 'implicitly' I mean that there's no explicit 'rating system'. [I talk more about the value of implicit v. explicit means of deriving value here...] To be clear, Flickr is filled with plenty of junk. In fact, we like it that way. There's not just a low barrier to entry, there's virtually no barrier to entry. Got a camera? Bam! You're a 'photographer!'"

    "So Flickr is a system that accommodates taking a 'worthless' picture of a hangnail, or a breathtaking Ansel Adams-like landscape. The cool thing is that while creating a frictionless environment that serves both scenarios, we can also determine which of the two is likely more 'interesting' to the community at large."

    The ability to seperate wheat from chaff, or more accurately personally interesting from collectively interesting, is subtle but huge. And it does so without the use of link flux (i.e. PageRank) but rather uses 'in system' heuristics.

    Usually after invoking the Flickr example, I transition to Y! Answers. If there's a complaint I hear about Y! Answers is that there's a lot of noise in the system. Admittedly, "Umm.. my boyfriend caught me sleeping with one of his best friends?", or "Why is the sky blue?", or "What's up?" do not necessarily resonate with the "expand all human knowledge" meme. But what's cool is that we can create a system that accommodates everything from the ridiculous to the sublime... but knows the difference between the two! (Or perhaps more accurately is taught the difference by millions of users.) This is the power of interestingness!

    At this point I usually drop in a dry remark, "At Yahoo we have spent a fair amount of time and energy focusing on systems that are noisy, where anyone can say anything at anytime, etc. One of the most popular datasets and testbeds for these kinds of conditions is popularly known as... [prepare for punchline] the web... and we've been working on it for about a decade..." ;-)

    I'm not sure why this post took on the flavor of a running commentary on my own talk, but that's how it came out!

    I want to also remind folks that my relationship to the products I often invoke in this blog is best characterized as awed bystander. All hail Serguei, Yumio, Stewart, Tomi, etc!

    Tuesday, August 1, 2006

    Y! Answers: On-demand MicroBlogging

    Welcome Wall Street Journal readers! Lee Gomes wrote up a nice Q&A with me today about the new "bubble". Lee was gracious enough to include mentions of my dog Rashi and this blog, elatable. Thanks Lee!

    Y! Answers
    I've been thinking (and talking) about Yahoo! Answers a lot recently. A huge congrats to Yumio, Lesley, Bob B, Tom C, Ofer, Tomi, Eckart and the gang at Y! Answers for the tremendous growth that the product has enjoyed - truly remarkable. As a (very interested!) bystander I'm blown away and grateful for what you all have achieved.

    I recently mentioned how traditional web search is generally retrospective or forensic, but Answers lets one search for knowledge which does not yet exist. Cool stuff, still blows my mind.

    That model is really from the perspective of the asker, and speaks to the "pull" that invokes the knowledge. There's another way to think about Answers from the perspective of the answerer... The "push" of knowledge from the answerers head into the world.

    Blogging has been heralded as the poster child for "user-generated content" or "amateur publishing" or whatever buzzword you may prefer. And at a technical and procedural level this is certainly true. The process of becoming "a blogger" has never been easier.

    The hard part (now that the barriers to entry have melted away) is having something worthwhile to say. That really hasn't gotten any easier. Moreover as a newly minted "blogger" there's an expectation that you'll have a consistent, steady stream of interesting postings for your readers to enjoy. Nothing sadder than a dead blog or inactive blog.

    But what of the more casual "blogger?" Someone who has only the occasional gem of wisdom to share? Someone who may not want to carry the baggage associated with owning and maintaining a blog per se?

    Another way to think about Answers is that it's a system by which would-be "bloggers" can pick off areas of expertise and easily "post" what they know. You can think of each answer as a micro blog post... But instead of shooting it into the ether(net) on your blog, leaning back and waiting for readers to visit (either by the compelling title of the post, the blogger's reputation, etc.) Yahoo! Answers delivers a ready-made audience. In fact each "post" is in direct response to demand. Each question is a little appeal to the world that says "I'd be interested in knowing about..." and each answer is a little release of knowledge that may in another context been a more speculative blog post.

    I'm obviously not suggesting that Yahoo! Answers replaces blogging, or that the two are ultimately equivalent. It's just interesting and useful to recognize answering as publishing, and examine the somewhat fuzzy line between the two endeavors...

    Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    Bug (and other) identification services

    "Better Search through People" applied to image search? Or Yahoo! Visual Answers?

    BoingBoing references a "bug identification service" called "What's that bug?" that allows folks to send in photos of bugs for identification. (Looks like Yahoo featured this three years ago too...

    Based on a cursory glance at the site, this isn't exactly what I'd imagined. Folks don't actually upload photos directly but rather email them to the curators who do the identification. I was envisioning a site where folks actually upload content directly, and the community (presumably of entomologists) identify the critters.

    There's a group on Flickr called "Guess what this is!". This is more of a guessing game. Then there's "What flower is this?" I've also seen geographic scavenger hunts on Flickr, i.e. the "Guess where ______" meme... There's also "Name that _____", featuring "Name that music video" and "Name that movie".

    This theme, i.e. getting folks to help me name that plant | part | flower | etc. definitely scratches an itch. This is all coolness!