While browsing one of the Yahoo! developer groups for information on something else, I noticed that somebody accidentally published a spec for an upcoming Calendar API.
I tried to move this forward way back in 2005, so it’s exciting to finally see this coming, although since I left Yahoo! I’ve started using 30Boxes (which has its own API) and I’m pretty happy with it.
Link: Yahoo Reported to Plan Hundreds of Layoffs
"Over the weekend, some blogs reported that Yahoo was considering layoffs of 10 to 20 percent of its work force. But the people close to the company, who discussed Yahoo’s layoff plans on condition that they not be identified, said the cuts would likely be in the ‘hundreds.’"
Link: Yahoos Quest to Open Up
"For months, Yahoo chief executive Jerry Yang has been talking about swinging open the doors to the Yahoo portal. A key goal, he has said again and again, is to turn Yahoo into a set of platforms for third-party publishers and developers."
Link: Yahoo, EBay to Team Up in Japan
"Yahoo Japan Corp. and eBay Inc. said Tuesday they have agreed to team up in online auctions, planning services for next year that will make it easier for consumers to buy things via the Internet from the U.S. and Japan.
The deal will facilitate ‘cross-border trading’ and invigorate the online auction market, Yahoo said in a statement."
It is exciting that people in Japan will finally be able to trade outside of their borders, because they seemed to have such problems with that in the past.
Yahoo! Search’s "Open Shortcuts" feature is the thing that keeps me using Yahoo! Search. It’s sort of a geek/power user feature, but it’s incredibly useful if you do lots of searches on specific sites. I find search shortcuts particularly useful for media sites such as Netflix and eMusic — because so many web sites talk about media, it’s better to use a site-specific search to cut through all the noise and go straight to the download.
I have shortcuts for Netflix and eMusic already, but it occurred to me this morning that it might be handy to have a search for the Amazon MP3 store as well. So here’s how to use the Yahoo! Open Shortcuts feature with Amazon’s MP3 store:
- Go to search.yahoo.com
- Log in to Yahoo! if you aren’t logged in already
- In the search box, type:
(copy and paste the contents of this text box)
- Click on the Search button
You’ll see a confirmation page. Once you’ve confirmed, you can use your shortcut. To do this, from any Yahoo! search box, type:
(Replace "Feist" with the name of the artist or song you’re searching for, and don’t forget to precede the whole thing with an exclamation point.) You’ll be taken straight to Amazon.com’s search results for the search term you specified.
Now somebody needs to create a search engine that searches only for downloads from eMusic and Amazon.
Link: Small Steps at Yahoo Bear Fruit
"…[Yahoo! CEO Jerry] Yang’s plan appears to be more a fine tuning of Yahoo’s existing strategy than a change in course. He said Yahoo had begun to de-emphasize some businesses, like its music subscription service, while sharpening its focus on areas where it is strong, like news, finance and sports, as well as the Yahoo home page and e-mail. The goal, he said, was to make Yahoo the ‘starting point’ for most consumers on the Web.
Perhaps the newest element in Yahoo’s strategy came in the form of a promise, long hinted at by Yahoo executives, to open the company’s site to outside developers. It is a strategy that has proved successful for Web sites like Facebook."
Link: Yahoo’s Open Invitation
"This year, openness is the buzzword ringing through Yahoo’s Sunnyvale (Calif.) campus, and executives hope it translates into a strategy that helps set fortunes right. In the months since Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang replaced Terry Semel as chief executive officer, company leaders say they’re newly focused on opening Yahoo’s real estate to outside developers, who in turn can create tools that make Yahoo’s pages more attractive to users."
Hey, that sounds neat!
Link: How to Fix Yahoo!: Building a Yahoo! Platform.
"Certainly the Yahoo! platform won’t fix Yahoo! by itself, but I think it should be a major part of their plans going forward. Turning My Yahoo! into an open platform for rich internet applications does two things: 1. it can unify Yahoo!’s services under one umbrella — something they have long struggled to do, and 2. it adds utility for users and gives them less reason to leave Yahoo!, and the longer people stay on the page, the more likely they are to start using Yahoo! for search."
We woke this morning to an radio news report that Microsoft and Yahoo are in merger talks. This kind of thing popped up several times during the time I was there. I recall that in 2006 the hot rumor was that Yahoo and eBay would get together, which would have been interesting for me. The Microsoft rumor has come up a few times in the last few years, too, but this time they sound more serious.
As always there is a lot of armchair quarterbacking about what a combination would look like which is humorous because we don’t have any information about what a combined Microsoft/Yahoo would look like at this stage.
Erick Schonfeld of Business 2.0 posts comments that are typical. He says "any move would smack of desperation" but I think that assigns an emotional quality that doesn’t (or shouldn’t) exist in deals like this, casting Yahoo as the homely prom date and Microsoft as the nerdy (and wealthy) boy next door who can’t get a date no matter how much money he spends on the limousine.
The truth is that Wall Street looks for synergies in any kind of merger/acquisition and there are plenty here. Yes, there are cultural differences between the two companies, but my sense is that they’re not unmanageable, and a healthy cultural cross-pollination could be just what the doctor ordered for both companies. From an engineering/developer standpoint, there’s a
lot to love — Microsoft engages in tons of projects that Yahoo wouldn’t touch today. If Microsoft can attract an engineer like Jim Hugunin to their side, they can certainly find something to keep Yahoo’s senior engineers interested.
If you saw my presentation at O’Reilly Emerging Tech way back in March you might remember that I pre-announced a few products, including a Yahoo! Photos API and some others. At that time we also started discussing a new authentication product for developers that would enable users to access their Yahoo! data through through third party applications, starting with Photos and then hopefully extending to others in time.
We’d originally expected to see this product shortly after I made the announcement, but for one reason or another the release got delayed, and I left Yahoo before we were able to make it generally available. So I was happy to see this morning Dan announced that Browser-Based Auth for Yahoo! Web Services has been released. Good job, guys.
An authentication system for a web services platform is a decidedly un-sexy piece of plumbing, but it’s vital if you want to have a read-write platform that keeps the user in control of their authentication credentials. (One advantage of this scheme is that the user doesn’t have to share their password with a third party developer. Another advantage is that the user can shut off the third party application’s access to their data at any time.) This will enable all kinds of fun new applications, particularly if other Yahoo! properties adopt it for their read/write APIs.
Browser-Based Authentication was one of the most challenging product initiatives I drove when I ran the developer network team at Yahoo! — there were an unbelievable number of moving parts, people to coordinate and risks to consider, not a lot of fortune and glory for the many people who worked on it, and lots of questions as to whether it should even get done in the first place (even though eBay, Flickr and others have had similar authentication schemes for their third party developers for years). So it’s terrific that this is seeing the light of day.
The work I’ve done with platform authentication systems at eBay, Yahoo and elsewhere is factoring into my consulting work today. It’s also touching Approver.com; as I’ve discussed on the Approver product blog, we’re working on an Approver.com API which is coming along nicely. Because everything that Approver does requires authentication, we’re having to do our authentication scheme for third-party developers before we do anything else. We will hopefully be able to share more about this in the next few weeks.