On Yahoo and Microsoft

So Microsoft wants to buy Yahoo. I would hate to see Yahoo’s culture assimilated by Microsoft, especially after visiting Yahoo to see what its like. I believe Wired’s claim that the Microsoft and Yahoo are not too far apart is a bit optimistic:

Yahoo might appear more laid back, but the two are culturally closer than one might expect. For instance, while Google Inc. foots the bill for employees’ meals, Microsoft and Yahoo both make their work forces pay in the cafeteria. And while some associate afternoon soccer and cricket matches with Yahoo’s startup ethic, Microsoft’s campus is dotted with playing fields.

Yeah, but I bet Microsoft’s cafeteria isn’t named URL’s. I also doubt Microsoft is footing the bill with free coffee and soft drinks in every building, as is the case with Yahoo. Simply comparing recreation facilities and the company cafeteria is not an accurate metric for determining how close the companies are. There is a lot more to it.

Though its Windows operating system is on more than 90 percent of the world’s computers, its perpetual lack of savvy online has also prompted it to experiment with Silicon Valley-style events, including inviting programmers to gather once a month in bean bag chairs to brainstorm and collaborate on cool Web projects.

Why not just snatch up all of the “cool” programmers working at Yahoo? I don’t see how that would work either, because it seems obvious that Microsoft is unlikely to maintain Yahoo’s existing Unix and PHP properties and is likely to migrate everyone over to Windows Live products in their place. I really hope that doesn’t happen, but with concerns over Microsoft’s intent to simply acquire Yahoo’s userbase, I am concerned.

The company’s internal reaction with John Gruber’s “translation”, fairly well sums up how Yahoo is going through the process. It’s almost lose-lose: how can Yahoo remain independent and keep its shareholders happy?

I hope they know what they’re doing.

By Reid Burke

Hi, I'm @reid. I work on developer tools at Yahoo. I serve at Awakening Church with a focus on technology. I also enjoy riding motorcycles.


  1. Hey, Microsoft is famous for our free sodas and coffee. And working here kicks ass, the people and the work are great. That always makes it especially painful when my peers in the community paint us as an evil monster. Personally I’d love to work with the Yahoo folks, although obviously the possibilities have moved on since you posted this blog post. (I just subscribed and am catching up…)

  2. I’ll admit I was wrong with Microsoft’s free drinks, I didn’t do my research. Thanks for the counter-argument from Microsoft– it’s good to know that it isn’t really an evil monster 🙂

    And the possibility still does exist– though Microsoft won’t fully acquire Yahoo!, they may agree to combine a substantial part of their businesses.

    What do you do at Microsoft?

  3. Currently testing javascript libraries for Windows Live – some of the browser-side infrastructure for Hotmail, Spaces, etc. I’ve been here for a while – in the past I’ve worked on COM/COM+, Indigo/WCF, and the Vista Sidebar. (Oh, and when I started here I was in the Windows NT build lab – that was many moons ago…)

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