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Open Source Yahoo! News Technology

Yahoo Closes Lab, Among Other Things (venturebeat.com) 141

mikejuk writes: In its recent earnings call, Yahoo revealed plans to cut its workforce by 15% -- around 1,600 employees by the end of the year. Yahoo Labs is another victim of the cuts as revealed in a Tumblr post by Yoelle Maarek who reports that both Yahoo's Chief Scientist, Ron Brachman, and VP of Research Ricardo Baeza-Yates, will be leaving the company and that going forward: "Our new approach is to integrate research teams directly into our product teams in order to produce innovation that will drive excellence in those product areas. We will also have an independent research team that will work autonomously or in partnership with product partners. The integrated and independent teams, as a whole, will be known as Yahoo Research." Maarek, formerly VP of Research now becomes leader of Yahoo Research. To anyone who has followed the story of research at Yahoo there will be a sense of deja vu. Back in 2012 Yahoo laid off many of its research team, many of whom found a new home with Microsoft. It was Marissa Meyer who in the following year recruited a substantial number of PhDs to Yahoo Labs which initiated some interesting projects.

Meyer clearly thought research would save Yahoo, but now it all seems a bit late and Yahoo can't save its research lab.

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Yahoo Closes Lab, Among Other Things

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  • I thought there was a big call for Meyer's head on a plate a while back. Did that just disappear in to the woodwork? It does seem like a lot of the companies' failure can be traced directly back to faulty leadership.

    • A couple of disgruntled investors have been calling for Mayer to be fired, but as far as I know, Yahoo's board of directors has no problem with her. Which I suppose shows just how screwed up Yahoo is.

      • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @03:50PM (#51549451) Homepage

        Mayer hasn't quite shone with her performance, but do you think anyone else would have done any better?

        Yahoo might well be beyond repair.

        • Mayer hasn't quite shone with her performance, but do you think anyone else would have done any better?

          Yahoo may be beyond repair, but someone else might have actually tried. Someone else might have made bold changes to Yahoo. Perhaps bought Netflix, who knows. Instead, she has made a bunch is tiny irrelevant acquisitions and upset the workers with changes to benefits. In no way has she justified the 10s of millions of dollars she has been paid.

  • ruined by bringing in too many PhDs.... Matrox.

    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      I had a interviewed at 3Dfx in 1997. The interview with the QA manager went fine. The next person I interviewed was with... the marketing director. A thousand Dilbert comic strips flashed before my eyes. An engineering company being run by the marketing department is always a bad idea. The interview with the marketing director went south in a hurry. A few years later, the marketing department got this brilliant idea that 3Dfx should make their own boards and compete with their own customers. A few years aft
      • An engineering company being run by the marketing department is always a bad idea.

        "Why should engineering be focused on doing anything revolutionary, when they can be focussed on previous_product++?"
        -- Every Marketing Department Ever Involved In Product Development Decisions

    • No, Matrox was ruined by it's two co-CEOs. Neither of them had a clear vision of the future; but having two competing leaders never works well.

      • Matrox had a very clear preference for high GPA egotistical academics is what I'm saying, and their donations to their university didn't help anything either. That's *how* Matrox was ruined, not the *who*.

    • Matrox didn't die, the internet says they still have "3-5% market share" for video cards, and they're a market leader in multi-monitor cards. I didn't know any of that until I checked, since they don't have a track record of *nix support, but 3% of the current video card market might be more than the whole market was worth when they were a market leader! Are they "ruined," or were they saved by having a lot of smart employees and being able to grab niches even right after stumbling?

  • Yahoo's death knell for me was when del.icio.us no longer worked for me on a normal web browser, barely a couple weeks after yahoo bought it out. Even now, after a few years, the only way it works is if I put a browser in "private" mode. Which um, feels weird. That said, if there's anything I wish would work out for yahoo, it's Other Space - which, they put zero effort into making that available on my TV. Why do I need to plug my laptop into my AVR to watch a freaking show? Or trick yahoo into thinking
  • Research divisions are useless anyway. Everyone has tons of "innovative" ideas. The point is to productize them, or at least make them useful.
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      Do you know what the "D" in "R&D" means?
      I mean, not just which word it is, but what is actually meant by that word?

      • D=Development. Guess what? I am talking about Research divisions. They are called "Yahoo Research" not "Yahoo R&D". THey are all "R" and no "D". Dumb.
        • No, they were all R and no D. They're still called R, but they're inside product teams now. That means now they are all D and no R.

    • by ZipK ( 1051658 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @04:43PM (#51549653)

      Research divisions are useless anyway.

      IBM Research: ATM, floppy disk, Winchester disk, scanning tunneling microscope, magnetic stripe card, relational database, UPC, FORTRAN, SABRE, DRAM, FFT, DES, Fractals, RISC, etc.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, no kidding, until about the last 50 years, private research divisions were driving all the progress. Until some bright accountant figured it was cheaper to let universities do the R&D at the student's expense, then you just buy the IP without all the messy HR stuff, and you have an infinite supply of eager, naive, pre-broke employees.

    • Research divisions are useless anyway.

      Do you not see the irony? The website you mentioned this runs entirely off unix clones. Where do you think unix came from? Magical fairy land?

  • Bingo! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @03:51PM (#51549459) Homepage

    Our new approach is to integrate research teams directly into our product teams in order to produce innovation that will drive excellence in those product areas

    This sentence makes me throw up inside.

    • Re:Bingo! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by creimer ( 824291 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @04:05PM (#51549515) Homepage
      That's always the problem with R&D at Fortune 500 companies. The bean counters will scream bloody murder that traditional R&D is an expense to the bottom line, doesn't apply directly to existing or future product lines, and a true research breakout would kill all the cash cows. If R&D is integrated into the product lines, most companies just make a newer version of an existing product with some added features to justify a higher price tag.
      • That is because things never come out of R&D int the tech world. Microsoft and Google learned this a long time ago. That is why they now acquire.
        • Re:Bingo! (Score:5, Informative)

          by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @04:53PM (#51549685)

          That is because things never come out of R&D int the tech world.

          Well yes, other than than fax machines, synchronous-sound motion pictures, statistical process control, television, radio astronomy, stereo signals, speech synthesizer, electron diffraction, photovoltiac cell, the transistor, Hamming codes, the calculator, Karnaugh maps, transatlantic telephone cable, electronic music player, C, awk, telephone switching, 32-bit microprocessors, TTL, TDMA/CDMA, 56k modem, and electron lithography.

          What have R&D companies ever done for the world? [wikipedia.org]

        • by creimer ( 824291 )

          That is because things never come out of R&D int the tech world. Microsoft and Google learned this a long time ago.

          Yet Microsoft and Google spent more money on R&D than Apple does.

          http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/06/14/5-tech-companies-spending-more-on-rd-than-apple-in.aspx [fool.com]

      • This is the problem : invention, in the software space consists of all three of a) a clever idea b) implemented and used by the market c) purchased by the market so it makes, or supports making profit (or an exit). It's really hard to know where a) is going to come from, hard to get b) to happen, and c) depends on so many factors unrelated to a) and b) sales, macro market issues. Especially as there's no formula for creating good ideas, unlike there are formulas for b) (e.g agile) and c) P
    • by swell ( 195815 )

      "Our new approach is to integrate research teams directly into our product teams in order to produce innovation that will drive excellence in those product areas"

      This corporate marketing speak is an indicator of the problem. The clones in the marketing dept and administration are great at mimicking what they see as hip talk, not so good at original thinking. Unfortunately, the only way to move up the corporate ladder in a stagnant organization is to kiss ass and be politically correct. Instead of cutting sc

  • by Streetlight ( 1102081 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @03:56PM (#51549479) Journal
    Why doesn't Meyer just close the company down. She can be the last one out so she can shut off the lights.
    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      The IRS ruled against Yahoo on the tax treatment for selling off the stake in the Chinese search company. If Meyer shut down the company, shareholders will have to pay the tax bill.
  • If Meyer's idea of trying to move Yahoo! forward is the hiring of PhDs, that explains much about the horrid redesign of their web site.

    Only someone devoid of reality or common sense could think that crappy look and layout would make people want to stay.

    As I said previously, with any luck the web designers and those who approved the new design are included as part of the force reduction. If anyone deserves to be fired, they most certainly do.

  • What does Yahoo actually do now? Are they a holding company for other companies? Do they provide any services? WTF Yahoo.

    You want to make a cool company? Build a public utility cloud. Offer free service to non-profits to generate buzz. Give away Internet access capped at 10 mb/s and charge a nominal fee for more. DO SOMETHING BOLD, don't just try to re-tread old ideas.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @06:13PM (#51550021) Homepage

    Because 90% of the company woes lie in their laps with their stupid decisions and their incompetence.

    Why is it they lay off everyone else yet keep the dead weight that actually destroys the company employed?

    • Better to lay off slowly and shed company parts yearly instead of going ass up 2 years later and canning everyone at once. That's actually what a CEO's job in a declining company entails: bleed slower so the death is more manageable, and so you can sell off parts at reasonable prices rather than them becoming worthless in a bankruptcy auction after the company burns.

  • How many companies have the cajones to issue a flatulence like

    integrate research teams directly into our product teams in order to produce innovation that will drive excellence

    ?

  • Tumblr not Tumbler!

  • Wondering already what happens with the Mozilla search engine contract. In the worst case Mozilla would end without main income source. Interesting times!
  • If they really want to be taken as a serious company, maybe they should first focus on making their website look like a trustworthy, professional search engine instead of a sketchy tabloid-like website with a search function built into it.

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