Category Archives: Yahoo!

Two weeks ago, Yahoo held its quarterly internal hack day. Today Yahoo! holds its first Open Hack Day.

The first I ever heard about a hack day was from Ken and the Jotspot guys. They had a hack day to have some fun and work on something that wasn’t on their normal “to-do list”. It was a great idea to innovate and give the team a breather from the day-to-day. As most people know by now, Yahoo took up the idea and now we’re sharing it with the world.

I sat in the audience for this last internal hack day. Of course I was impressed with all the amazing ideas and hacks I saw. Of course I saw tons of hacks that I thought could be integrated into real products. Of course some of these ideas showed real promise and could translate into real business value. But, I was much more amazed at the feeling in the air.

One of the best things that Chad, Caterina and Leonard have created is a feeling that everyone’s ideas have a place and everyone’s work deserves to be shared. Hack Day is a forum to share your ideas with a large audience and in front of Yahoo execs (this hack day was judged by Jerry Yang, a few SVPs, Sue Decker our CFO and a few other rockstar Yahoos). You could tell that all the people in the room were stoked to be sharing their ideas. But people in the room were also stoked to be seeing other Yahoos work. Everyone was supportive of their peers and I think everyone went back to their day jobs better off for it. The HAck Day team is making every Yahoo more innovative.

Now, in just a few hours, we’re starting Open Hack Day. Hundreds of developers from all over are coming to camp out on Yahoo’s campus and to hack using Yahoo APIs from YDN. Just like our internal hack days, I expect to see lots of great hacks. But I’m most excited to see that feeling in the air. The day starts with sessions about how to use our APIs, then people get settled in, then awesome entertainment and the hacking begins. The presentations take place on Saturday afternoon and I look forward to seeing people from different companies (sometimes competitors of each other) creating that supportive space – that feeling in the air.

If you’ll be here, please come up to me and say hi, and happy hacking. Let’s make it a place where everyone gets to shine.




Yahoo!’s Bangalore Office on MG Road

Originally uploaded by sgatz.

One of the perks of my new job is working with an amazing team of developers that live and work in Bangalore, India.

So, for the first time ever, I’ve traveled to Asia, I stopped in Singapore and I’m now in Bangalore.

Yahoo has a few offices in BLR (the one pictured is on MG Road) and there are lots and lots of people that work here. In fact, there are more Yahoos in Bangalore now than there were worldwide when I started with the company.

I’m learning a lot on this trip, building some great relationships and I’ve been inspired by the spirit of the folks here. Everyone here is excited, passionate and wanting to figure out how to get the best stuff done quickly. (especially the APG team here). And seeing different cultures firsthand is so much better than reading or being told about them.

I’ll post a little later about some of my key learnings about South East Asian markets…

Many of you who read this blog have gotten to know me as Yahoo’s “RSS Guy” but my official role has been a lot broader than that. I’ve lead Yahoo’s Personalization team and have worked to ensure that personalization is woven into all that Yahoo does, that you enter info once (like where you live, your favorite stocks, what feeds you like, etc) and Yahoo does the right thing on your mobile device, on the TV, and on any of our web properties. In addition, my team has launched adaptive personalization like Movie Recommendations and automatically changing Yahoo’s front page based on the parts of Yahoo you use (and there’s more in that regard that you haven’t seen yet).

But personalization isn’t all that I’ve worked on at Yahoo. Many people still call me the “My Guy” since I’ve worked on My Yahoo! on and off over the years, and once in a while you’ll find someone who still refers to me as the “Yahoo Search guy” referring to the years that I ran our search business. Yahoo has allowed me to try different jobs over the years, keeping my experience here fresh, and honestly, that’s a big part of why I’m still here.

And, well, it’s time for a change again. I’ve just started a new job: leading Yahoo’s Advanced Products Group. In the new job, I’ll become part of Bradley Horowitz‘s Product Strategy Group and sit along side people like Caterina Fake, Chad Dickerson at YDN, Ellen Salisbury at Y! Berkeley Research Labs and lots of other great people. And, I’m lucky to be joining a team of amazing people. APG is the group that launched Yahoo! Podcasts and that is working on some really, really cool stuff (that I can’t tell you about).

I’m really excited about the new job and I can’t wait to tell you about all the great work that this team is doing. And, I’m sure it’ll take a while before people stop calling me the “My Guy” or the “RSS guy”, and I’m ok with that. I’m really proud of the work I did on My Yahoo, Personalization and RSS, now its time to be proud of a whole new set of stuff.

You’ve probably read that Yahoo! released a beta version of a new home page. It’s a radically better page and it seems like a lot of people think its a good thing. My team has been working closely with the front page team and I know that there are some more additions coming in the coming weeks.

There are a ton of features that this page adds, they intended to build the page around the user, around their daily routine, and make it a place to see what’s going on out there.

It’s easy to miss some of the more subtle things, so I thought I’d point out some of my favorite changes:

  • Personalized Links – on the left side of the page you’ll find links to the most popular Y! properties. Two key personalization features that the team is playing with: 1) the properties you visit the most are big and bold so you can find them easily (I’d love it if they just put them at the top) and 2) you’ll be able to customize which properties appear there. don’t like Yahoo ____, then remove it and replace it with another yahoo link
  • Get updates at a glance – Over on the right is something we call the “personal assistant”. Here you’ll see the number of new messages you have, the number of friends online, the current weather and a local traffic map. The nice thing is that its pretty compact, but if you mouseover, you can see detail (like the subjects of all your new emails)
  • Your local stuff – in that personal assistant module, you’ll see that its customized to your own location. We’ll use location information that you’ve told us before (maybe on Y! Local) to automatically personalize this for you. (and you will be able to easily change it too)
  • Customized Page – click the Page Options link to change page colors or to change between the new 100% width version and the old narrower design. So, if you really liked it that way, you can have it that way.
  • Y! Pulse – this is a fun area. Look all the way at the bottom right of the page and you’ll see a cool new module that surfaces the voice of the yahoo community. As I’m writing this, I see it has a feature on the “top spas” across the country as voted by Y! local users, it has a travel reviews module for popular vacation destinations and even “interesting flickr photos”. Cool stuff, and you can easily imagine an “add to my yahoo” button on these modules so you could take your favorites to your own page.

The page is just an early beta, and I know they are still refining a lot of ideas, but I’m really excited that we’re integrating community/social media and personalization into the core of the page. We’ve been seeing this all cross into the mainstream and I see this as yet another step along the way.

So, this week I’ve been waxing nostalgic.

Two friends at Yahoo! are both hitting their 10 year anniversary working here. It’s hard to believe that someone could be working at an internet company that long. But then I instantly think about myself. I’m close to my 7 1/2 years mark here at Yahoo! I did the math the other day and realized that only 150 people are left that have been here longer than me – out of a company of almost 11,000 people. wow!

When I bumped into one of those friends last week, we chatted a lot about how you successfully can manage an organization of this size. How do you set up a structure that supports doing all the things we want to do in a high quality way. How do you make sure that folks are all marching the same direction and that there aren’t 3 teams working on the same thing (My Web, Delicious and Y! Bookmarks for example). How do you make sure that we’re using our resources efficiently and focusing on the things that really matter. But how do you organize in a way that doesn’t get in the way of progress?

One of the things that I like most about Yahoo is that we are always asking ourselves this question. At every stage you have growing pains. When Y! added employee #101 it was asked. When they added employee #1001 it was asked, and now we’ve seen employee #10001 and we’re asking.

Trivia Note: Martin Fisher was employee #100 – I don’t know who was employee #101 or #1001 or #10001. If that’s you, let me know.

I say it alot to people who know me, but since I’ve been working here at Yahoo, I feel like I’ve worked for many different companies. The challenges have changed, but more interestingly, the culture, the size, and the way to succeed has changed immensely. Reminds me of that old saying “what got you here [to this level of success] isn’t necessarily what’ll get you to the next level”.

I’m not sure if Yahoo will ever see employee #100,001, but I’m looking forward to seeing how we grow, what new areas that get tackled, where we stumble, where we fail, where we win, where we really kick ass. And more importantly, I keep learning something new every day…

Seems like a busy day today, but I’m psyched that we can finally talk about the news about WordPress and Yahoo! Web Hosting. Matt Mullenweg (creator of WordPress) announces the WordPress on Yahoo deal.

What this means is that if you sign up for Yahoo! Web Hosting, you can now get WordPress in a one-click signup. No need to download a zip file and FTPing it or anything. Also, Yahoo! will make sure you are running the latest WordPress and will automatically upgrade you to the latest rev (you can turn this off if you don’t like the idea). So now you can concentrate on blogging instead of loading software.

I was amongst the first alpha testers and this blog is powered by WordPress on Y! Hosting. This whole blog wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the integration announced today. It really was easy and its nice being able to focus on the things I care about: the content and the design, not where files should live and do I have the latest version.

The Hosting team also did a similar deal with Moveable Type last week, so if you prefer that, its just as easy. (although I personally prefer the simplicity and extensibility of WordPress).

Great job Matt (WP), Guy (Y!) and both teams!

At last week’s Syndicate conference, I got the chance to give a lunchtime keynote in front of about 200-300 attendees (its hard to count while you are presenting ;) ).

I walked through the work my team has been doing around RSS, gave a demo of the new Yahoo! Mail beta, and talked a little bit about where this might all be going in the future.

In my blog comments, Rafael Sidi asked me to post my slides online and I thought that those of you who couldn’t attend would like to check them out.

A few things to note:

  • Slide #2 – “That’s who I am who are you?” – was a note to myself to ask the audience if they were publishers, marketers, tech industry folks or bloggers. The room was, surpisingly, pretty equally split amongst those types with the largest group being people who didn’t want to raise their hands.
  • 2005 Moving RSS beyond the start page – Even I was wowed when I put all of our RSS related launches onto one slide. So many launches! More than one RSS launch each month of 2005.
  • Overall, I filled in a lot of points with talking, so it’ll be hard to completely tell what I was saying, I don’t know if someone recorded it, but if you know tell me and I’ll post it here.
  • Important URLs mentioned: http://whatsnew.mail.yahoo.com/ , http://alerts.yahoo.com/ , http://podcasts.yahoo.com/, http://publisher.yahoo.com/ , http://publisher.yahoo.com/rssguide

Download it here:
Scott Gatz’s Keynote Presentation – Syndicate Dec 2005 (PDF)

This week is the Syndicate Conference in San Francisco.   When I went to the first Syndicate in May in NYC, I was floored at the idea that there would even be a whole conference dedicated to content syndication/RSS.   When we started working on RSS here, Dave Winer had just launched RSS 2.0 we weren’t sure of where this was all going.   There was only a small crowd of people in the “RSS community”.  

Fast forward to today, there are millions of people using RSS, companies are joining the RSS fray everyday and these conferences are usually packed with people.   Its gratifying to see this kind of growth and consumers are clearly benefiting from all the innovation that’s happening.

I’ll be giving a keynote on Wednesday.  As with any conference like this, I want to make sure I’m addressing the audience – be it publishers or industry types – so I’ll be paying close attention to the people in attendance tomorrow and the questions they raise.   Currently, I’m planning to walk through how we’ve gotten from those early days to where we are today, some successful examples of using RSS and where I think this might all be heading.

If you are attending, please be sure to drop by and say hello. 

Yesterday, we put out TWO new products.    One was the much blogged about/talked about RSS Reader in the new Yahoo! Mail.    The other, was the ability to get IM, SMS or Email alerts to any RSS Feed out there.   We call it Feed/Blog Alerts and its live now on http://alerts.yahoo.com/

If you have never used Yahoo! Alerts, its a service that allow you to get real-time updates sent to your mobile phone, email or Yahoo! Messenger with triggers you specify like: Stock prices go above/below a limit, your favorite sports team wins/loses a game, the snow at your favorite Ski resort is perfect, etc…

So it made a lot of sense to want this feature: “send me an alert whenever this RSS feed updates”.    And that’s what we launched yesterday.   It works with ANY RSS/Atom/RDF feed so that means you can get notified of pretty much whatever you want.

So there are lot of cool ways to use Feed Alerts, but I’ll share with you how I’ve been using the service (I’ve been testing it for about a month now):

  • Blogs that update infrequently – I don’t like to clutter up My Yahoo! with feeds that don’t update too often, so I subscribe to an email alert for those feeds.   If that feed only updates once every few weeks, I’ll get it by email when it does.  
  • Stuff I need to know right away – like a Craigslist search for something I’ve been hunting around for a while or today’s sale on Woot!.
  • My own blog’s comment feed – ok so maybe I’m a little too new at this, but I love to know when I have comments, send it right to my phone please!

How will you use it?  Let me know in the comments. 

Also, since it was popular on the mail post, here are some screen shots, be sure to go check it out at http://alerts.yahoo.com/ …

Yahoo! Alerts Home Page
(see the Feed/Blog BETA option)

Alerts Home Page

 The Signup Screen
(you can enter the feed URL, or pick from your MyY! choices, also note you can pick the delivery options like “as it happens” and email, messenger, mobile)

Alert_options

Yahoo! Messenger Alert

(for a Yahoo! News RSS feed)

Alert_messenger

Alert via Email
(this one is a daily digest of all updates from RotoWire’s RSS feed

Sample Email Alert

So anyway, take a look. After a few days using it, I think you’ll find yourself moving some feeds out of your aggregator and into alerts.

Also, stay tuned, we’re working on an integration of the Add to My Yahoo button and alerts, so you can get your users to signup for alerts right from your site.