Life at Yahoo!

After nearly a year and a half on the Yahoo search team, I wanted to share some things about my experience here.

Group mentality: ideas float around and become adopted by the group. It is difficult to get credit for starting an idea, but it is also difficult to get blamed if things go wrong.

Forward-looking: in previous companies the post-mortem meeting was a common event. Here, at least in my work, it’s all about looking forward. If something went wrong in a project we try and improve upon it for the next time rather than spending a lot of time pointing fingers. If a deadline is missed, a new deadline is determined and work proceeds towards that. (There may be ramifications up the food chain, but the managers in my path do a good job screening this.)

The past starts now: I worked at two search engine companies before coming to the big Y. At my previous company my job was nearly identical to what it is now, except the scale was much smaller. After the initial job interviews, nobody at Y has ever asked me about my past work.

New ideas, yeah right: You may think you have a new idea to improve search, but you don’t. All the ideas have been thought up, it’s just a matter of prioritizing which ones get worked on. (Caveat: there will be big new ideas that come along at some point, but I mean ideas to improve the current paradigm of search.)

So: half of all sentences spoken by engineers begin with the word “so”.

All things Yahoo!: if the company does something good my friends compliment me. If the company does something my friends don’t agree with, they question me. If a friend of a friend loses their email password they ask me to fix it (which I have no idea how to do, so please don’t ask me). If there is a problem with Yahoo’s co-branded DSL service I hear about it. This is part of being at a company that has the most users on the internet and is under a constant microscope from the blogosphere, tech media, and the popular media. Even though I only work on search, and even then I’m just a small cog in the machine, I hear about Mail, Maps, News, lawsuits, our stock price, and everything else.

Yahoogle: people love to ask me about how Yahoo is doing compared to Google. But the funny thing is that casual friends, those I don’t communicate with on a regular basis, constantly forget if I work at Yahoo or at Google. This makes me laugh because it’s like asking someone if they’re a Hatfield or a McCoy: competitors, yet to everyone else they look the same.

Deal Gossip: I hear very little gossiping about deals the company is involved in because there are so many. It takes a major rumor to make people interested.

About Chris

I'm Chris and I've worked in the search engine industry since the late '90s.

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