December 23, 2009

On the MyBlogLog Shutdown

posted at 07:34 AM | PermaLink

Marshall Kirkpatrick is reporting that Yahoo! will shut down MyBlogLog next year. Well, color me unsurprised. The service has languished for years. I removed it from my site a long time ago. It made me a little sad to do so, but it was just slowing things down and not really "adding value" as they like to say.

It's sad because I was involved in the MyBlogLog acquisition at Yahoo! and believed in what they were doing. I worked to help get the team on board, nag the right people to make sure they got reasonable hardware on which they could grow, interviewed their first post-Yahoo engineer, and made the trek up to the Berkeley office a few times a week to help them transition into Yahoo and work on plans.

I genuinely had high hopes for what MyBlogLog could do both inside and outside of Yahoo. But as I wrote in Watching Yahoo's Transformation:

MyBlogLog has all but died on the vine, right? Is there anyone left of the original team of 5 or 6 engineers still working on it? No, I think it fell victim to Yahoo's larger social strategy. FAIL.

On the one hand, it's sad that our collective time was wasted, but the members of the MyBlogLog team have all gone on to bigger and better things outside of Yahoo. And I suspect everyone involved learned some important lessons along the way.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:34 AM

September 22, 2009

Watching Yahoo's Transformation

posted at 07:06 AM | PermaLink

Having not worked at Yahoo in a bit over a year, it's interesting, amusing, and frustrating to watch what's going on over there. Some of their moves confirm feelings I've had for some time, while others are more puzzling.

The Search deal with Microsoft was basically inevitable. You could see even two years ago how out-gunned Yahoo was compared to Google and to what Microsoft was rumored to be thinking of doing. Based on what I knew, Yahoo was spending less than 20% of the money on search that Google was and they were trying to do the same worth with about 1/10th the hardware and less mature infrastructure software. Meanwhile, the web kept growing and became more and more real-time.

It seems that Yahoo wants to sell Zimbra. I remember when that acquisition happened. I thought it was cool technology and would be great if we actually wanted to compete in the on-line "office suite" market (or whatever), but that never happened. Instead it remained as one of those "enterprise" products that Yahoo has a history of trying and failing at. Remember Yahoo's enterprise instant messaging product? FAIL.

Now comes news that Yahoo wants to sell Small Business which includes their web hosting and domain registration businesses. This makes good sense to me. While it's a business that I think has usually made money, it simply wasn't competitive in a day and age when you can get a full virtual machine, storage, and bandwidth from any number of vendors who aren't scared to offer good remote access (ssh anyone?) to the server: Slicehost, Rackspace, Server Beach, Amazon, and so many others. Yahoo's offering may have made sense back in the year 2000 or so when it really competed on price, but this is one of those race-to-the-bottom commodity business and has been for years.

People picking on Carol for selling some stock recently? Well that's just dumb. Yahoo is a public company and she really didn't sell that much.

I hope that Carol is able to trim the parts of Yahoo that no longer make sense and help bring some focus to the company. I really do. But to be honest, I've seen it before. Terry Semel tried to do something similar when he came on board. But that was a wandering effort that ultimate lacked focus and wasn't ambitious or forward-thinking enough.

Jerry and Sue tried this when Terry left, but I really think they were too "Yahoo" to transform Yahoo into what it needs to be.

I see how Carol is trying to be smart on the business side, but I'm not sure how Yahoo plans to wow its users. And coming from the Yahoo! Developer Network, I wonder if Yahoo will ever get serious about outside developers. Conferences and Hack Days are great, but I suspect they still haven't figured out how to offer buisness-class APIs (with an exchange of money and an SLA). Aside from YUI and Hadoop, can you really go beyond a prototype with this stuff?

It could simply be that I never really drank the YOS/YAP kool-aid and never will get it.

Oh, and what about those smaller startups? Should I start to worry that or Flickr is going to go away? What about Upcoming? When their founders start to worry, I feel like I should too. At least Flickr has a business model and appears to still be kicking some ass. MyBlogLog has all but died on the vine, right? Is there anyone left of the original team of 5 or 6 engineers still working on it? No, I think it fell victim to Yahoo's larger social strategy. FAIL.

I hope that Carol can be clear, focused, and agressive in re-shaping Yahoo. The half-measures attempted over the last few years simply haven't been enough and never will be.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:06 AM

October 14, 2008

Yahoo! Search Taste Test

posted at 07:12 PM | PermaLink

In today's coverage of the new Yahoo! Search radio advertisements, Erick Schonfeld at TechCruch says:

So can an advertising campaign change any of that? Search is not like a soft drink. People use the search engine that they think can do the best job in helping them find things. Now, maybe Google has brainwashed all of us to believe that it does indeed produce more relevant results. And in a blind taste-test more people might choose Yahoo's results. But if that is the case, I'd rather take an interactive quiz that puts each search engine to the test and make my own decision. That would go much farther to convince me to switch than Yahoo's current creative.

Funny he suggests that. I remember suggesting exactly that a few years back when I worked in the marketing group for Yahoo! Search. I suggested we do something inspired by Twingine but which hid the engine identity and let users judge for themselves.

Why didn't it happen? Because some of the same people who were convinced that Yahoo! Search was "just as good as" Google (and better in some cases, they said) were afraid that people would realize that this was not the case.

The cognitive dissonance was amusing, but it was also frustrating and stupid. "Either we believe we're better or we don't... Which is it?" is the sort of argument I tried to make.

I guess that question eventually answered itself.

Oh, well...

Posted by jzawodn at 07:12 PM

July 22, 2008

Congrats to Chad Dickerson on his new gig!

posted at 12:30 PM | PermaLink

News is out today that Chad Dickerson is leaving Yahoo! to become the CTO of Etsy in New York. That's fantasic news and I wish him the best of luck. Having made a similar decision myself, I know it's not easy.

How time flies. I still remember interviewing Chad on the phone a few years back and talking about some experiences we had in common: using Perl to wrangle news and content feeds from varous partners and so on. It didn't take long to realize he'd be a great addition to Yahoo. That turned out to be quite the understatement. :-)

Chad and I worked together in various capacities for a few years at Yahoo! and he truly made a mark there, kicking off Hack Days, helping put the Yahoo! Developer Network on the right track, and generally kicking ass. Seriously. Ask anyone who worked with Chad.

I know this will be a big loss for Yahoo! and Brickhouse but it will be an even bigger gain for Chad and Etsy.

My only regret is that we didn't get to work together longer.

Good luck, Chad! And welcome to the ex-Yahoo! club.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:30 PM

July 10, 2008

Congrats to Yahoo! on the BOSS Launch

posted at 07:26 AM | PermaLink

One of the more ambitious projects in the works when I left Yahoo was BOSS, a more open Yahoo! Search for developers and publishers. I see that BOSS launched today and wanted to say congrats to my friends in the Yahoo! Developer Network and Yahoo! Search.

Marshall Kirkpatrick said it well in his ReadWrite Web post today:

It is clear, though, that BOSS falls well within the company's overall technical strategy of openness. When it comes to web standards, openness and support for the ecosystem of innovation - there may be no other major vendor online as strong as Yahoo! is today. These are times of openness, where some believe that no single vendor's technology and genius alone can match the creativity of an empowered open market of developers. Yahoo! is positioning itself as leader of this movement.

Well done.

Keep on pushing...

Posted by jzawodn at 07:26 AM

June 13, 2008

The Aftermath

posted at 06:56 AM | PermaLink


Y Combinator Dinner Aftermath That's all I can say. After yesterday's announcement, I'm rather overwhelmed with all the congratulatory notes, comments, LinkedIn invites, and pitches to work at promising startups. It almost makes me wonder if I shouldn't have decided to leave Yahoo before deciding where to go next.

Nah. I needed "something next" to get myself in that mindset in the first place, I think.

If you emailed me personally and haven't seen a response yet, don't worry. I have a bunch of replies to send off, lunches to schedule, and so on.

Meanwhile, I'm off today (Friday) and Monday and then back at work for another week and a half or so. If you have unfinished business with me, please get in touch before my work email address no longer belongs to me.

Here's an interesting bit of trivia: back when I was first at Yahoo, it was pretty easy to nab yourself an alternate email address. So I picked up just because. It turned out to be far easier to spell to folks on the phone and got a fair amount of use. But it also got some decidedly weird spam and email for people who treated it as a disposable address when signing up for various services.

I wonder if there'd be interest in a Xooglers type blog written by ex-Yahoo folks...

Anyway, have a good weekend. We're off to hang out with family for a few days and enjoy the California weather.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:56 AM

June 12, 2008

Leaving Yahoo!

posted at 06:30 AM | PermaLink

My Yahoo! Badge It seems that word has started to leak out, so I might as well remove any speculation or ambiguity. In the next few weeks, I'll walk the halls at Yahoo! as an employee one last time and turn in my purple badge. After 8.5 years of service and a better experience than I could have possibly imaged back in 1999, the time for me to move on has arrived.

It's always hard to make a decision like this. It took several months to finally decide. I've really enjoyed my time at Yahoo and have a lot of people to thank--people who took a risk on me, believed in me, encouraged me, and even defended me over the years. There are literally too many to name, but some of them are: David Filo, Jerry Yang, Jeff Weiner, Phu Hoang, Ash Patel, Jeffrey Friedl, Mike Bennett, Anil Pal, Bradley Horowitz, Allen Wang, Chad Dickerson, Matt McAlister, and Chris Yeh.

If any of you read this, I've learned a lot from all of you. Really.

I've enjoyed working with some amazingly talented coworkers (far too many to name) and have had the opportunity to help some acquired companies navigate the inner workings of Yahoo as they scale up their services. That includes people in engineering, marketing, public relations, product management, design, legal, and more. You guys rock.

I can definitely say that I've had the chance to contribute to the success of Yahoo as much as I could muster. Whether it was staying up all night working on the 9/11 memorial size, launching the Yahoo! Search blog, starting the Yahoo! Developer Network, debugging MySQL problems, pushing RSS and syndication, introducing startups to Yahoo, arguing for openness, or making sure that news releases appeared on Yahoo! Finance quickly.

I won't at all be surprised if some people think this is related to Microsoft or Carl Ichan and the uncertainty surrounding Yahoo's future. The reality is that there's nothing pushing me out the door at Yahoo. The reason I'm leaving is that something very compelling has come along to lure me away. Despite what the current press sentiment might be, Jerry and David have built a remarkable company.

Ever since I graduated from college in 1997, I've wanted to work for a smaller company. But my first job out of school was a ~40,000 person Oil Company and my second was Yahoo! Back then Yahoo was in the 2,000 people ballpark but it eventually grew to seven times that size, give or take a bit. I've experienced the ups and downs--the layoffs and the big victories. I'd do it all over again if given the chance.

It's been quite a ride, and I'm really going to miss Yahoo. I'll miss the parking debates and all the "random" stuff we're so fond of ranting about. Watching from the outside is going to be a very different experience. But the opportunity to work in a much smaller company recently presented itself and it was simply too interesting to pass up. I'll say more about that in the coming weeks.

To all the Yahoos I've worked with over the years, thanks and please stay in touch. My email address will always be and I'm on LinkedIn here: And, well, you've found my blog already. :-)

As for the future of Yahoo, everyone working at Yahoo today knows in their gut what Yahoo should be and needs to be. My advice is to work on making that happen. Don't let anyone else (inside or outside the company) try to tell you what Yahoo is. Trust your gut. And, if you have the chance, re-read the farewell note that Ian Rogers sent out when he left a few months back. It's good stuff.

And, by all means, don't take the stuff you read in the press at face value. You're all smarter than that.

Now where's that Yahoo Alumni club I've heard so much about?

BTW, JR is leaving as well.


Posted by jzawodn at 06:30 AM

May 28, 2008

Yahoo! Developer Network Hiring a Technical Evangelist

posted at 12:51 PM | PermaLink

If you happen to know someone who'd be interesting in joining the evangelism team on the Yahoo! Developer Network, please let me know.

The full job listing is here. To that, I'll add a few points of interest.

  • you get to attend and speak at numerous industry conferences
  • you can appear on YDN Theater as much as you'd like
  • you will work with a cool team
  • you get to be on the forefront of stuff like YOS (see: this video and this video too)
  • you may build prototype applications, mashups, and demonstrations to showcaswe our technology and services

That's on top of all the other benefits of working at a company like Yahoo! :-)

Feel free to send me a resume (that's the most direct method) or use the "Submit Resume" button on the listing.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:51 PM

May 25, 2008

Tim O'Reilly on Search

posted at 12:40 PM | PermaLink

Tim O'Reilly gives the following advice about Search...

So, my advice to Yahoo!: continue with your plan to outsource search to Google, just like you did before 2002, and plow those increased profits and reduced costs into your own innovation, strengthening the areas where you are #1, exploring new ideas that will make YOUR users insanely happy, and generally focusing on what makes Yahoo! great, rather than on what doesn't. That is, unless Microsoft makes you so good a deal for your search assets that you just can't say no. But either way, let yourself be quit of the destructive competition and focus on adding real value for your users.

In other words: play to your strengths.


Posted by jzawodn at 12:40 PM

May 12, 2008

Monkeying with Search

posted at 03:17 PM | PermaLink

Search Monkey A few weeks ago, at the Web 2.0 Expo, Matt Cutts dropped by the Yahoo! booth and we got to chatting a bit. He mentioned being impressed by Yahoo's willingness to monkey with our search results page--meaning Search Monkey, the tool that allows site owners (like me) and developers (like me) to, for lack of a better term, pimp their result.

I haven't had a chance to write up anything about Search Monkey yet, but luckily Rasmus dove in and wrote up a developer-centric summary. As he notes, there's a launch party later this week at Yahoo. Drop by for some food, drink, and more information about Search Monkey.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:17 PM

May 07, 2008

Why is it hard to work with big public companies?

posted at 12:35 PM | PermaLink

People often ask questions like that. And from the inside it's clear that things aren't as easy as we wished they'd be. But I've never thought long enough about the issue to figure it out for myself, let alone try to explain it to others.

Luckily Greg Cohn has. Here's just a bit of what he says in Doing Business with the Semi-Permeable Corporation:

Today’s environment is transparent, open, and conversational - meaning almost anyone can get to anyone and communicate with them publicly, semi-publicly, or privately. This is great - when I need to find someone, it tends to be quite easy to reach them directly or with one degree of separation via my network. When someone needs to reach me, I am equally easy to find (and in fact have a public “contact me” email link that’s one click away from a search on my name). As conversations become substantive, companies are increasingly transparent about their objectives, plans, competition, and even finances, all of which materially increase effectiveness.
So much for the good stuff. The challenges are: a) that I’m still under the constraints of a public company, and can not in any way be “conversational” about material inside information; and b) that open doors like mine are magnets for everything from unrelated BU inquiries (from people who should know better) to “the Yahoo! suggestion box”, and the signal-to-noise ratio of inbound items can create a lot of distractions and confusion if I don’t filter aggressively.

I can definitely sympathize with the second bit. I don't know how many random inquiries I get each month, but it can be a lot to deal with. Help me with my research project. Introduce me to someone in My Yahoo! Tell me my Yahoo! password. Fix my email. Buy these pills. The list goes on!

And I digress...

Seriously, go read what Greg wrote. He did a good job of helping people to see the world from the other side.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:35 PM

May 06, 2008

Web Developer Needed

posted at 01:55 PM | PermaLink

yahoo The Yahoo! Developer Network (otherwise known as "YDN", also known as "where I work") is looking for a skilled webdev to work full-time at Yahoo! HQ in Sunnyvale, California.

Here's a bit of the boilerplate about the job. I've left out the "who is yahoo" stuff, since I assume your know what Yahoo is if you managed to work the Internet long enough to find this. :-)

The ideal candidate will have a strong command of JavaScript 1.0-1.5, DHTML, DOM Levels 0-2, CSS 1-2.1, HTML & XHTML, web standards, PHP, object-oriented programming, cross-browser compatibility issues, progressive enhancement, optimization techniques (both in file weight and perceived/actual rendering speed), accessibility, device-portability techniques, and internationalization issues.
Knowledge of XML, HTTP, Apache, MySQL, remote scripting, state management, working within a Unix environment, CVS, and bug tracking tools is highly desirable. A Computer Science degree with 5+ years of related work experience is required.
The environment is fast-paced with numerous user-centered iterative design & development cycles. You'll be responsible for building everything from proof-of-concepts and usability prototypes to deployment-quality code.


Shoot me your resume and I'll get you hooked up with the hiring manager.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:55 PM

April 28, 2008

Dear Yahoo and Microsoft Management

posted at 11:31 AM | PermaLink

Please do something.


You know what I'm talking about.

There are a lot of people wondering what the future holds and it seems like we're in yet another indefinite holding pattern while you do whatever it is you're doing and cannot talk about.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world marches on.

Cat Stare

While the public staring contest is great drama for the incessant technology news machine, the rest of us are rather sick of this. I say this as a concerned observer, fan of Yahoo, employee, and shareholder.

Your Friend,


Posted by jzawodn at 11:31 AM

April 17, 2008

Yahoo! is Hiring

posted at 10:42 AM | PermaLink

yahoo It's hard not to get distracted by all the Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, and Google speculation that's been building, but I wanted to take a minute and point out that we're still hiring. That other stuff is only a distraction if you waste time focusing on it.

There are a variety of open technology positions from hard-core back end engineering, front end work, and everything in between. Even in the developer network, we're looking for at least one web developer and an evangelist.

Rather that list all the jobs we have open, shoot me your resume and tell me what sort of work you're looking for. I'll get it to the right people internally.

And if you know someone else who's looking (or should be), please pass the word.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:42 AM

April 11, 2008

The Yahoo! Developer Network's New Look

posted at 01:23 PM | PermaLink

Hey, check it out. YDN got a redesign.

The New TDN Design

Send feedback here. More and more of the site will take on the new look as time goes on--assuming you like it.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:23 PM

March 19, 2008

Yahoo + Microsoft = Web Mail Dominance

posted at 12:25 PM | PermaLink

I just ran across this graphic in Dave McClure's Flickr photostream and realized that I never considered what combining HotMail (that name still makes me giggle a bit) and Yahoo! Mail under the same company would mean.

web mail market share

"Web Mail Dominance" kind of jumped to mind.

Granted, I know nothing of the relative growth rates of the services included in that graphic, but even if Gmail does somehow come to rule the world one day, there's going to be a long run of One Really Big Player in the web mail space if the proposed acquisition happens.

Hey, I see that he blogged it too.

Food for thought... or at least a quick mental snack.

Posted by jzawodn at 12:25 PM

March 14, 2008

Openness is not a Poison Pill at Yahoo!

posted at 03:50 PM | PermaLink

Mary Jo Foley asks Could Yahoo’s ‘openness’ be another anti-Microsoft poison pill?

Yahoo traditionally has been and continues to be a big open-source backer. It runs its datacenters on open-source software (something Microsoft officials have said they don’t intend to rip and replace immediately — while avoiding saying never).
But over the past couple of weeks, Yahoo has really been banging its “we’re more open than ever” drum.”
Yahoo announced in mid-February that it had implemented what it believed to be “the world’s largest commercial application of Apache Hadoop Java-based distributed-computing framework.” Yahoo is using Hadoop to process its Webmap, which is its “application which produces the index from the billions of pages crawled by Yahoo Search,” according to the Yahoos.

I can honestly say from my vantage point that openness at Yahoo! has nothing to do with Microsoft or any other would-be suitor.

We've been on the openness road for a long, long time at Yahoo. And we take it rather seriously. Some times it hasn't been as visible as others, but believe me, the trend is quite clear when you look at all the data. The Open Source adoption and work. The APIs. The way we communicate with users and partners. The Blogs. The RSS feeds.

I'll be speaking about a small bit of this at the Business of APIs Conference in New York on Monday. And also at the upcoming Open Source Business Conference. And, of course, the Hadoop Summit too.

You'll be reading more and hearing more about openness at Yahoo! from me and Yahoo's much higher up the food chain in the coming months.

Anyone who knows me knows that I come from open source roots and am a big proponent of opening things up more and more. I'd have left Yahoo! years ago if I didn't see it happening.

If you think the last few weeks are big, you haven't seen anything yet! :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 03:50 PM

March 05, 2008

Yahoo! FireEagle: Personal Location Service Platform for Developers

posted at 02:27 PM | PermaLink

Today FireEagle launched as an invitation-only beta for developers to start testing. I think of it as a personal location service platform, but the more formal description comes from the announcement on the YDN blog:

Fire Eagle is an open location services platform offering web, mobile, and desktop developers a simple way to build new location-based applications while also ensuring that consumers have complete control over their data, including how, when and where their location is made available. Want to easily make your site responsive to a user's location? Or, maybe you've found a way to capture someone's location and you want to find cool apps to plug it into? By doing the heavy lifting and connecting you to a community of geo-developers, Fire Eagle makes it easier to build location-aware services.

Tom Coates was the ring leader for FireEagle and talks about it in this video shot earlier today at ETech 2008.

Don't be put off by the downer of a headline that TechCruch used ("Yahoo’s “Twitter For Location” Goes Into Private Beta With Near Zero Functionality"). I think that Mike Arrington either got the wrong message from someone or misunderstood what FireEagle really is today.

It's a location platform for developers to build on. It has an API that, among other things, lets you worry less about handling geo data and easily build in support for your web, desktop, or mobile application.

It's currently not aimed at end users or "consumers" (oh, how I hate that term). I'm sure the analogy to Twitter was intended to be a loose one.

Congrats to Tom and team for getting FireEagle out the door. :-)

VentureBeat has good coverage here: Yahoo’s FireEagle location service to launch publicly today

Oh, BTW... FireEagle uses OAuth for authentication!

Posted by jzawodn at 02:27 PM

February 20, 2008

Hadoop Reactions & Announcement of Hadoop Summit at Yahoo!

posted at 11:36 AM | PermaLink

apache hadoop I have to say, I'm impressed at the coverage that news about our production Hadoop deployment in Yahoo! Search got yesterday (and today). Here's a quick list of the stories.

I guess good technology makes for good news, huh?

Also, today we're opening up the invite list for the Hadoop Summit to be held on March 25th at Yahoo! in Sunnyvale, California. For more on that, check out:

As I've said before, this is gonna be quite a heard for Hadoop. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 11:36 AM

February 19, 2008

Yahoo! Search running Apache Hadoop on Large Scale

posted at 07:18 AM | PermaLink

Over on the Yahoo! Hadoop blog, you can read about how the webmap team in Yahoo! Search is using the Apache Hadoop distributed computing framework. They're using over 10,000 CPU cores to build the map and processing a ton of data to do so. They end up using over 5 petabytes of raw disk storage, eventually outputting over 300 terabytes of compressed data that's used to power every single search.

As part of that post, I got to interview Sameer and Arnab to learn more about the history of the webmap and why they moved from our proprietary infrastructure to using Hadoop.

One of the points I try to make during the interview is that this a huge milestone for Hadoop. Yahoo! is using Hadoop in a very large scale (and growing) production deployment. It's not just an experiment or research project. There's real money on the line. (It's too bad we had a technical glitch in the video right as we were discussing a Really Big Number.)

As Eric says in that post:

The Webmap launch demonstrates the power of Hadoop to solve truly Internet-sized problems and to function reliably in a large scale production setting. We can now say that the results generated by the billions of Web search queries run at Yahoo! every month depend to a large degree on data produced by Hadoop clusters.

It looks to me like 2008 and 2009 are going to be big growth years for the Hadoop project--and not just at Yahoo!

Stay tuned...

Update: You can get a Quicktime version of this video now.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:18 AM

February 13, 2008

Layoffs and Social Media

posted at 06:51 AM | PermaLink

Boy, it's been quite a week so far.

Mirror Lake Hike, Winter 2008 I had not anticipated how quickly news of the layoffs (specific people leaving or being asked to leave) would spread on-line. But with blogs, Twitter, TechMeme, Facebook, LinkedIn, IM, Valleywag (sigh), and TechCrunch it's remarkably easy to find out who is affected.

I have to say, it's rather spooky. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "public company."

Had I thought about it in advance, I would have seen this coming. But watching the situation evolve in real-time has been a little disconcerting. And having it all happen against the backdrop of a $150 million acquisition and a corporate takeover bid makes it all the more surreal.

To any former Yahoo folks looking for work: feel free to ping me (LinkedIn, email) if you'd like a hand. I've already heard from a few companies looking for good ex-Yahoos. And I may encourage some to post on my job board too. From what I've been seeing and hearing, there's a lot of good work out there, so take your time and enjoy a bit of a break before jumping right back into the fray.

Posted by jzawodn at 06:51 AM

February 05, 2008

Using YSlow to Grade the Presidential Candidate Web Sites

posted at 06:49 AM | PermaLink

Nicole Sullivan and the Exceptional Performance Team at Yahoo used the popular YSlow Firefox/Firebug extension to grade the site performance of the 2008 presidential candidates.

How did they do? Overall, atrociously, all the candidates failed the YSlow exam except Mike Gravel who earned a "D". Page weight was a problem for Barack Obama, whose site weighed in at almost 700Kb. It was even worse for Mitt Romney, whose site weighed a whopping 1,531Kb. I hope he doesn't have supporters trying to make contributions on dialup modems!
Democrats got better grades in almost all performance subjects tested, in particular response times and page weight. They improved user experience for returning visitors by setting an Expires headers and improving the full cache user experience. This helped propel them to a performance GPA of "C" despite their failing YSlow grade. Republicans never managed to overcome the deficit and finished the semester with an "F".

I doubt that site performance will be a factor in the voting, but it'd be quite amusing if there turned out to be a relationship between the performance numbers and votes cast for each of them.

See Also:

Posted by jzawodn at 06:49 AM

February 02, 2008

More on the Yahoo buyout offer from Microsoft

posted at 08:24 AM | PermaLink

It's been about a day since I first started reading and talking about Microsoft's $44 billion buyout offer for Yahoo (my current employer). And I have to say, it's been quite fascinating so far.

In all the reading I've done and discussions I've had, numerous scenarios have emerged. I don't claim (beyond a gut feel) to know how likely any of them are, but I figured I'd list them here for the sake of discussion. Bear in mind that, while I work at Yahoo, I have no inside info on this and am only posting my thoughts and ideas that I've heard from friends and others on-line. Jerry is probably too busy to answer my email anyway. :-)

Oh, and if you're one of the reporters who has called or emailed, you'll understand that I really can't go on record or talk to you about what's going on at work.

Anyway, here's the list...

  1. Microsoft actually does buy Yahoo for $31/share (or something in that ballpark). This is the default case in the minds of many people.
  2. Another large company (or group of companies, possibly including private equity funds) makes a counter offer. This will ultimately only serve to drive the price up. Microsoft will outbid.
  3. The Yahoo Board of Directors decides to outsource Yahoo's search advertising (and possibly search) business to rival Google. This entails a long-term partnership for a number of years and is sufficient to send Microsoft back to Redmond to continue working on its own search and search advertising business. I imagine this would be a very tough call to make.
  4. As a variation of #3, Yahoo may look to strengthen its display advertising (graphical ads) business and take some significant share of the DoubeClick acquisition as part of the deal. That makes Google the dominant contextual text advertising company and Yahoo the dominant display/banner and behavioral advertising company.
  5. The board simply rejects the offer and decides to continue as is. This seems quite unlikely to me. Shareholders will insist that something big happen.

No matter what happens, it's clear that this will likely be going on for quite some time. Corporate events of this magnitude take quite a bit of time to execute. I suspect that the Yahoo board of directors is considering several options that may or may not be included in the list above. Time will tell.

As an amusing side note, yesterday was one of the few days that page views to my blog home page were dramatically higher than to any of my individual posts. Apparently a lot of folks came over here to see if I had anything to say about the news. I didn't quite expect that.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:24 AM

February 01, 2008

Microsoft wants to buy Yahoo

posted at 07:27 AM | PermaLink

That's one way to make the news, huh?

microsoft offers to buy yahoo

This should be interesting. I predict that today will be one of our least productive days since 9/11 at work. Just guessing.


See Also:

Posted by jzawodn at 07:27 AM

January 28, 2008

YUI Grid CSS and Grid Builder Kick Ass!

posted at 04:59 PM | PermaLink

Okay, I'm not a front-end web guy. Not by any stretch of the imagination. So I tend to ignore a lot of Javascript and CSS stuff unless it's clearly and obviously useful to me. And while I've heard tons of praise for YUI, the Yahoo User Interface library, I'd mostly assumed it was stuff for other people--you know, the ones who understand all that stuff.

But I recently came across a link to the YUI Grids Builder and started playing with it. In about 20 seconds, I realized that I could use that as the framework to finally redo the horrible hack that is my blog layout.

So I did. (that link is temporary and will vanish soon)

It's not done yet, but it's faster, uses less code, looks good (and more consistent) on more browsers, and requires less of my mental energy to maintain. I get to take advantage of the YUI team's expertise and focus a bit more on the stuff I care about.

Anyway, I have a bit of template editing and tweaking of fonts and pruning and stuff to do, but I'm looking forward to throwing away the old and using the new. More on that later.

In the meantime, if you haven't played with the builder or at least read about YUI Grid CSS, take a few minutes and do so. It's really useful stuff and very well documented.

If you end up using it for your site, you'll also likely find yourself reading about YUI Reset CSS as well. And it may sort of freak you our or annoy you at first, but it's really a good thing in the long run if consistency is what you're after.

Anyway, enough of this commercial. I just wish YUI had existed a few years ago when I spent many, many hours tripping over my own lack of CSS knowledge. They've made this stuff so damned easy.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:59 PM

January 17, 2008

OpenID at Yahoo!

posted at 10:02 AM | PermaLink

openid It feels good to be able to talk publicly about Yahoo's OpenID support (developer info). :-)

It's been in the works for a while and I was one of the early squeaky wheels poking people to see if we could get on board. You can see the official press release or the story on TechCrunch. But no matter where you read it, this is big news.

Both and will act as OpenID 2.0 providers. That means starting soon any Yahoo! or Flickr user can sign in to an OpenID 2.0 enabled site simply using a reference to or

I've been a fan of OpenID for a long time--not just because of it's simplicity but because of the philosophy behind it. It puts more control in the hands of us: the end users. And it's another milestone in Yahoo! opening up more and more. In fact, I wrote about it almost exactly one year ago in The Tipping Point for OpenID.

Who knows. Maybe OAuth support isn't far off?

Oh, and before anyone jumps on me about this not being "full" (meaning bi-directional) OpenID support, I'm quite aware of that. Consuming OpenID is a different beast that can't happen overnight. Give it some time. I'm optimistic that we'll get there.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:02 AM

November 15, 2007

Defrag and Fragmented Services: My Defrag 2007 Talk & Some Videos

posted at 09:58 AM | PermaLink

Last week, in At Defrag Conference, I wondered a bit about what I'd discuss in my presentation.

And I think that from there I can talk about the socialization of the Internet and tools/sites we use every day. But I can also go in a slightly different way, talking about the "internet-based tools" and "transform loads of information into knowledge", and how we (Yahoo) can be suppliers of technology and services at many points in that chain.

It turns out that I ended up doing something closer to the later of those two. The video from my talk is now available via YDN Theather and I'm pretty happy with how it came out--especially when you consider the uncertainty over what people at the conference would want to hear, the fact that I was right before lunch, and the fact that I'd never done this talk before.

download (m4v)

I even managed to mostly stay within the alloted time.

There really isn't a strong message or conclusion other than "things are still in progress and not all sorted out yet", but that's pretty consistent with the discussions at the conference.

We shot a few other videos at Defrag too.

  • Dick Hardt of Sxip on Perl, Mozilla, Open Source, Identity, and more...
  • Phil Windley on government, information technology, on-line marketing, identity, and more...

A couple more will be online soon.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:58 AM

November 14, 2007

Announcing the YDN Hadoop & Distributed Computing blog

posted at 11:31 AM | PermaLink

hadoop Ever sine I wrote Open Source Distributed Computing: Yahoo's Hadoop Support back in July, interest in Hadoop and Yahoo's work has been on the rise. So I started to get to know the Hadoop team at Yahoo a bit better and help them figure out how to tell more of the story.

We decided that it'd make sense to have a new blog on the Yahoo! Developer Network where we can collect & post news, tips, announcements, videos, and anything else related to Hadoop and distributed computing work.

To kick off the blog, which we're calling Hadoop and Distributed Computing at Yahoo!, I sat down with Eric Baldeschwieler ("Eric14") to do a video interview about Hadoop and Yahoo's involvement.

download video

The more I dig into Hadoop the other projects emerging around it, the more I'm reminded of the early days of MySQL and the maturing of the LAMP stack. It's an exciting time to get involved. You can expect to hear more from me on this topic, both here and on the YDN Hadoop blog.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:31 AM

November 06, 2007

Yahoo! Developer Network Theater Launched

posted at 09:50 PM | PermaLink

One of the projects I've been part of has launched this week. We're calling it YDN Theater, and it's a blog that collects all the videos we're filming for the Yahoo! Developer Network. We're creating videos of stuff that we hope is interesting to a wide audience of developers and technologists and making it available in Quicktime, Flash (via Yahoo! Video), and on iTunes.

Some of the videos are of people who present at Yahoo and another set is video of talks that Yahoos give at technical conferences around the world. I'm also making an effort to grab famous folks at conferences and get them to talk about things too. We shot a few at Defrag in Denver this week.

We're also introducing a few shows to the lineup. I'm doing one called Experts@Work that came out of the realization that we have a ton of experts in a wide variety of technical fields at Yahoo! If only someone could get them on camera for a 15-45 minute discussion, we could probably uncover some very interesting stuff...

Well, that's what I'm doing. :-)

Here's the first video in the series. I sat down with Steve Souders (author of High Performance Web Sites and co-creator of YSlow) as a sort of follow-up to the YSlow screencast and interview that I made with him a few month back.

Needless to say, there's a growing list of folks on our interview wishlist. If you know of a Yahoo you'd like to see on camera talking about what they know best, drop me a line. (And if you're a Yahoo reading this, feel free to nominate yourself or a coworker.)

None of this would be possible without the expertise and skill of Ricky Montalvo (our video producer, editor, and guru) and Matt McAlister (our ring leader). Matt encouraged this at every step of the way and talks more about Investing in video at YDN on his blog as well.

I tell ya, this video stuff is kind of fun. Look for lots more from us in 2008. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 09:50 PM

October 31, 2007

On The Platformization on Yahoo!

posted at 01:52 PM | PermaLink

Over on Seeking Alpha, Jeff Jarvis (hi, Jeff!) writes Yahoo Edges Away From Portal Towards Platform, Finally, in which he wonders (in a skeptical tone of voice) whether Yahoo is really serious about going from a portal to a platform.

I think what we witnessed Tuesday night was the debate the company is having within: portal or platform? Even if platform has won at the top, we need to hear stronger confirmation of that and see strong action and the question remains whether it’s possible to change Yahoo’s culture to make the shift. It’s already big and old. But it’s not too late to change, and I think I finally saw the seeds of that change.

Well, Jeff... I have a few answers for you.

First of all, I think you're making a false dichotomy. Portals and platforms are not somehow mutually exclusive, though the tone of your article makes it seem like you think they are. There's nothing about being a portal (a starting point for millions and millions of people) that precludes also letting outside developers build content, services, modules, widgets, or media that the user could choose as part of their starting point. My Yahoo! has been doing some of this for years now.

But more importantly, I'm seeing movement on this (not just PowerPoint festivities) stuff becoming a reality at all levels in the company. I've been part of the planning and brainstorming around this work and have both seen and heard some of the reactions all the way up the chain of command. The company is quite serious about this. It's not just an experiment or a fad. It's part of our evolution. It is our future.

The seeds of change have, indeed, been planted. They won't sprout all at once. And they will require some extra watering and attention for a while. But once things start to grow, I think a lot of folks will start to understand what we're doing.

Oh, and about that "at a very early stage" comment. Do you not agree? Do you actually think the Internet is close to reaching maturity? I, for one, hope not. There's so much runway ahead of this technology yet.

Posted by jzawodn at 01:52 PM