Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Will Yahoo's top engineers reveal secret technology projects?

Posted by Tom Foremski - December 13, 2004

by Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher.com


I hit it big on Friday: I got a very decent-sized mention on Jeremy Zawodny’s blog, in an entry titled Tom Foremski on Google and Yahoo Culture.

Jeremy, an engineer at Yahoo, is a big, big name in the blogosphere and is a natural journalist. He has been one of the leading advocates within Yahoo for corporate blogging, and for Yahoo's adoption of blogging related technologies such as RSS. He also works in the Yahoo Search division, which makes him even more interesting.

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On Friday, I had written a piece about Google, saying it was run from top to bottom by engineers---there is not a single media executive in sight. Yet isn't Google a media company? Yahoo is run by seasoned media executives throughout its ranks.

This brought out some interesting information about Yahoo's culture from Jeremy. He remembers that he and others at Yahoo had gone through a long period of internal debate on whether they worked for a tech company or a media company. Although Yahoo is clearly a media company, Jeremy says it is also a technology company.

"In simple terms, you don't get to be the biggest Internet Media Company without also being one hell of a Technology Company.
So in my mind, Yahoo is both. No, the engineers are not front and center, but that doesn't mean they aren't dreaming up and building some really cool stuff. I only wish I could talk about some of the projects we've got in the works."

He ends with an invitation:

"Tom, if you think the engineers have been kicked aside, you need to come visit Yahoo. I'd be glad to introduce you to some of the smartest engineers in this industry."

Jeremy, I'll take you up on on that!

By the way, this reminds me of the first time I met Jerry Yang. Yahoo had just received their first $1m in VC funding. We were in a small run-down office space, with old plastic chairs and tables. The Yahoo server was in the other room. It was a great interview, and I've always liked Mr Yang's straightforward manner and his humble nature.

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