Category Archives: Yahoo!

When you build a product, these are exactly the comments you hope to read: “Mind blowing!”, “wow”, “great”, “soooooo addicting”. When you are building any product, take a little effort up front to think of the different kinds of users – it is likely to pay off in surprising ways.

Those comments where made about the last product I worked on at Yahoo: Yahoo! Live. I think it’s an addictive product and from what I hear users think so too – it could turn out to be the most successful Advanced Products team product.

What’s interesting is where those comments came from. Dan W pointed out this great post: Yahoo’s LIVE Deaf Chat Room! about how a group of deaf users were delighted by their experience on Y! Live. Those comments above were from this post and the commenters.

This wasn’t an accident. Eric Fixler on my team (and our intern Vibha Bamba) took the extra effort to research users with different kinds of abilities and what they would need in a product like Live. They brought blind, deaf, and physically challenged users into Yahoo and let them play with Y! Live. They listened to feedback, they researched how to make flash screen-reader ready. But most important: they just took the time to think it through: what would it be like for a deaf user to use Y! Live. Turns out that was a good move. I have a friend who is a sign language interpreter and he tells me that webcams are revolutionizing the way deaf people communicate. TTD is still around, but now people will just say get on skype to video conference. Much easier and faster.

I’m proud of the work that the team did (especially Eric and Vibha) and I’m so happy to see these kinds of posts.

So have you thought about how your product will work with all kinds of users?

UPDATE: I just noticed that Mike Quoc (the PM on Live) has a blog now. He linked to another similarly great post.

When I left Yahoo!, I mentioned that there were still two products from my team in development: Fire Eagle (still not launched) and an unnamed other one. Well, my team launched Yahoo! Live today.

Yahoo! Live allows anyone to stream their own live channel. If YouTube is what happened (past tense), Live is what’s happening right now. Each channel comes with its own chat room and a “co-viewing” area where you can see the other people who are watching.

It’s a pretty amazing product (even in this early “experimental release” phase) and one of those products that the more that you play with it, the more you want to. They’ve also launched with ability to embed into your own site and a nice API.

I’m proud that I was a part of it and I’m incredibly proud of the team. From what I read, they are chasing after some bugs and the initial reaction was more than they thought (pretty amazing to max out your beta servers with zero official press mentions), but I’m confident they’ll work through all that. It’s a truly amazing team.

Read more Mike Quoc’s post at Yahoo! Next for the details.

And P.S. while the press is loving to Sh*t on Yahoo! these days, this team shows they can still launch an interesting, innovative product. And if rumors are to be believed, Microsoft is trying to buy Ustream for $50mm. I suggest they save the money – if the MSFT/YHOO thing goes through, you’ve got a great team raring to go!

After almost 10 years leading product teams at Yahoo, I’m moving on. I’ve been thinking for a while that I wanted to take some time off and press the “reset button” on my brain, but it has been a grueling coming to a final decision. And its complicated by the fact that I really love my job and the people I work with.

Looking back over the last 10 years, I am proud of the measurable impact I’ve made on Yahoo! I’m proud of the many years I was known as the My Yahoo! guy, bringing you the features you love and growing Yahoo’s audience significantly. I’m proud of my work with RSS at Yahoo, bringing openness to My Yahoo and many other products–including an RSS ad product. I’m proud of my time as GM of Yahoo! Search when I pitched the idea and launched sponsored search and helped move Yahoo from directory search to web search model. And I helped make a few acquisitions along the way). And I’m proud of leading an innovation incubator (Advanced Products @ Yahoo!) and launching a number of interesting projects. But most of all, I’m proud of the teams I’ve built and the people I’ve hired – to this day it is Yahoo’s people that make this place great.

If you’ll bear with with me in the coming days, I’ll post some of my favorite stories of those years and give you a little inside view of my proudest moments at Yahoo and the biggest mistakes I made along the way. And in general, I hope to blog a lot more, covering product management, the industry and people management. If you aren’t already a subscriber to this blog, grab the feed.

My next step is to take some time off to catch my breath and travel a bit. Then, I’ll be off on my next adventure.

It is always tough to leave a job when you are having so much fun and working with great people. Then again, that’s probably the best time to leave. I know that I’m leaving behind a strong, talented team. My team’s major projects are going well and two will launch early in 2008. And two people whom I admire and enjoy working with are keeping the torch burning. Chad Dickerson will be leading Advanced Products and Salim Ismail (my partner in crime over last few months) will continue to lead the Brickhouse program.

All of which made it possible for me to leave with ease, and I’m thankful for that. I’m not going too far, I’m still a fan of Yahoo. I’ll help in any way I can with my teammates’ upcoming launches, I can’t wait to tell people about them.

So thank you to all the people that I’ve gotten to meet and to work alongside, you made my decade. Wish me luck as I start the next one…

One of my favorite features of Yahoo! Mail is that little hover that shows a map when you mouseover an address. There are bunch of those actions and in most cases they make Mail more useful.

Now there’s a way to add those things to your blog. The new Yahoo! Shortcuts plugin for wordpress helps you insert those things. I’m not sure how often I’ll use them, but I installed the plugin to see.

Off the bat, I’m not in love with the Yahoo! Search ones (don’t seem to add much value – a link to search?) and I’m not sure why I’d link to Yahoo Shopping when there’s no revshare program in place. I like the flickr integration, you can very easily add pictures. It’s slick.

On the negative side, it’s a beta, and buggy – I can’t remove ones from this post that I don’t like without editing the HTML – I’ll report that to the team. Also, I’d love a way to say “I never want Search Links”. Looking to the future, I’d love it if this opened up, so amazon could write a plugin to replace Y! Shopping.

If you use WordPress, check it out.

UPDATE: I neglected to say that I think this is all pretty cool and nice for a first cut. I’m excited about where this can go. And BTW, I saw a demo yesterday of something in a similar vein and I can only hope Yahoo keeps building these add-ons that make our blogging life easier.

And now here is a list of things hoping to trigger the shortcuts:

  • Yahoo! Inc – YHOO
  • 500 3rd St., San Francisco, CA
  • Nikon D-80
  • Please buy this for me: 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class SL55 AMG Roadster
  • Barack Obama

I’ve been delinquent in blogging about the new Next* blog (at It’s a place to launch new interesting yahoo projects that aren’t big enough or “official” enough to get a press release or a corporate blog mention. It’s also a place for things that would otherwise fall through the cracks (not quite a fit in any existing business unit). But my favorite is that the idea is to have a place where various Yahoos have a voice, be it controversial, grumbly, or whatever.

Reading it for the last few weeks shows that they are still trying to find that voice, but I know they aren’t looking to build a corporate mouthpiece. The first sign of that attitude was the pre-launch splash screen, which made no sense, but made me laugh:

I’m psyched to see my team posting on Next*, today is a post from Ayman about Zync, give it a read.

Props to Havi, JR, Ernie, and from my team: Keith and Matt (for the design). They were even nice enough to stoke my ego by mentioning my name in the footer.

Subscribe to Next* – Feed+Add to My Yahoo!

My blog has been a little quiet of late, mostly because my team has been heads down on building out three new products. You’ll hear more about the others (one is code named freeagle) in the coming weeks, but today is Y! Kickstart’s day.

Y! Kickstart is a professional network with a specific purpose: to connect college students, recent grads, alums and professionals to find jobs, internships and career advice.

We started with a simple focus: college students are about to go through a major life transition, finding their first job & career. For them, submitting resumes to job sites or companies seems like a black hole. College students are amazingly well networked on Facebook, but that network is about connecting with friends and is more appropriate for fun – in fact many students we talked to expressed frustration that “old folks” were coming onto facebook and forcing them to lock down their profiles or worse yet – clean up their act. Lastly, unlike someone like me who already has an established social network, these folks are just beginning to build their network.

So, enter Kickstart. It’s based on the premise that everyone does have a network: the school you went to, the frat/sorority you were in, the professional/interest group you are in, the companies you interned or worked at. Kickstart makes it easy to create and browse that kind of network. While we started with a focus on college students, I’ve already found it a useful networking tool for me to catch up with old coworkers and fellow alums.

Anyway, I could type for hours. The best thing for you to do is signup and give it a whirl. And when you do, search for me and add me as a connection.

Right now we’re in our “preview” release and we’re mostly focused on getting alumni and professionals to join. And, to give you more incentive: the US college with the most alumni signed up on Kickstart will get a $25,000 donation to their alumni program. So take a moment and reach out to all your fellow alums, you’ll be helping us out, I think you’ll find it a fun way to connect with former coworkers and alums, and heck you might even win the $25k for your school.

UPDATE 1: I neglected to mention, that like most all things from my group, this is a very early stage product. We know that it’s missing a lot, and that’s ok. I’d rather get feedback and suggestions and improve it on the fly than wait for months and months to launch – what fun is that?

My team in Berkeley just launched a new version of ZoneTag for Nokia 3rd Edition phones. So, that means if you’ve got a fancy N90, N70 or whatever, your phone can now seamlessly upload geo-tagged photos to flickr.

If you don’t know about ZoneTag, you should. On its surface, it is a great mobile photo uploader for flickr. You set it up, and everytime you take a photo, it asks you, then uploads it to flickr. It’s a great way to get those photos off of your phone – and it does it in realtime. But it doesn’t stop there. It automatically geo-tags your photos based on the cell phone tower you are connected to AND it suggests tags for your photo based on what other people in that location have tagged their photos. So take a picture at the Sears Tower in Chicago, it’ll suggest all sorts of skyscraper tags. Take one here at our office, it’ll suggest Yahoo! It really uses the power of people to help make your photos more relevant on flickr.

Last week at Web 2.0, Yahoo hosted a dinner at LuLu’s and invited about 50 people (yahoos and people from around the industry). I enjoy these things, they are always a good way to meet new people, hear different persectives on the industry and get the word out about what we are up to here. And this night was no exception.

My favorite (and most eye-opening) part of the night happened very early on. A fellow Yahoo and I were chatting with Noah Kagan and my colleague said something to the affect of “you know Yahoo is a big company, so…” and talked about how you have to navigate the org to get things done. My colleague was right, it’s an art working the company to get things moving the right way.

But, ever the astute one, Noah asked “Why do you people always say that? You never hear people at Google say how big Google has gotten–even though it has–but people from Yahoo always say that.” His point: if you keep saying you are a big company, then you will be one. He’s right and he’s right to have called us out on that. I say it often too, and I’m particularly good at navigating the company, but still I shouldn’t have to and I shouldn’t just let it be. And, when I think of it, there are lots of positive things to focus on about Yahoo, why don’t I say those first: “you know Yahoo has a great platform so its easy to scale” or “we’ve got tons of traffic, we just need to decide where to send them”, etc.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the “postive mental attitude” cult or those “The Secret” guys, but in this case, Noah’s right. So starting today, I’m gonna stop saying “You know Yahoo is a big company”. If you hear me say those words, please call me on it. You know from my other posts that I’m committed to positive change, now I just have to speak like it.

It’s all the buzz around the blogosphere, but we acquired MyBlogLog.

I’ve known about this for months and I’m excited that it is finally done and announced. Bradley has a great post about it as did many, many people.

As a blogger, I love this concept. It’s a great way to see who’s come by and is a great conversation starter. (for example, I saw that Scott Rafer, CEO of MyBlogLog came by to visit my site – I know him and I was able to drop a note and say hi).

There was an internal hack at one hack day here at Yahoo that played with the same idea. I was able to see who came by to look at our internal Wiki pages. It was a great way to find people who were interested in my projects (and talk to them about it).

As much as we say that blogs are “social media”, they aren’t really “live” unless people comment. MyBlogLog solves that. Obviously, we have a lot to do to hook this into the greater Yahoo community, but I’m optimistic about this. Over the last year, Yahoo has launched many little widgets for people’s blogs, I’d hope we figure out how to combine MyBlogLog with all of those as an option (kinda like how feedburner combined FeedFlare into their blog stats package).

Anyway, I added MyBlogLog over there to the right, so be sure to join my community and let me see that you came by.

Originally uploaded by bitmapr.

So hack day is on and I definately felt that spirit in the air. After a day of amazing sessions about our APIs and UI framework, everyone gathered in URLs (our cafe) to have pizza, meet each other and start hacking. I met lots of interesting people and the place was swarming with press and media (I didn’t expect that much press). Then the “surprise” entertainment was on. Beck performed an amazing one hour set on Yahoo’s lawn. He was backed by his full band and marionette versions of each band member. It was an awesome show – beyond just a simple concert. To cap it off, Beck’s puppets made a little video on our campus to celebrate hack day – very funny.

This afternoon we’ll have the hack presentations, and I don’t think anyone knows what we’ll get, but I hope that spirit continues.

P.S. I took tons of pictures, but there were so many people with much better pictures, I picked this one as one of my favorites.