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Microsoft The Internet Businesses

Yahoo R&D Chief Joins MSN Search 112

sriram_2001 writes "In a major hiring coup, the MSN Search blog announced that Yahoo's head of Research and Development, Dr.Gary William Flake has now joined MSN. According to Oshoma Momoh, General Manager, MSN Search, Dr.Flake will be 'responsible for bridging the innovation happening between Microsoft Research and MSN and for setting the technology vision and future direction of the MSN portal, web search, desktop search and monetization engine.' Dr.Flake is also the first person to be directly hired as a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer, an elite group that has Dave Cutler and Anders Hejlsberg among other luminaries"
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Yahoo R&D Chief Joins MSN Search

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  • Yahoo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by indigeek ( 755687 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @08:38AM (#12243232)
    I doube hiring the project manager without a technical team will bring any changes to MSN.
    Quite different from google where each of the employee is handpicked
    • Re:Yahoo (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Google are quite adept at marketing and acquiring firms with complementary offerings, but according to this analysis [], Yahoo actually have a larger database of web pages than Google (who apparently inflate hit counts to make their database look larger than it is).

      I still use Google as my primary search engine, but the more I read about the company, the less I like it. If Yahoo had a Usenet database, I'd probably switch to it.

    • Re:Yahoo (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @08:53AM (#12243343)
      Right, just like prising Anders Hejlsberg from Borland didnt bring about any changes because MS hire these brilliant people with no intention of actually getting them to do anything.
      • No, those MS guys see sharp.
      • by tgd ( 2822 )
        The problem is not their motivation for hiring those brilliant people, the problem is the iron lock they've got around their hiring process that prevents those people from hiring their kind of employees.

        MS's hiring practices are designed to continue hiring the status quo there. They tend to get very technically strong engineers with a lot less vision. The only way around that is through their strategic hiring program through the office of the CEO, which engineer grunts don't get hired through.

        I've had a f
    • The whole point of hiring people into Microsoft R&D is not to bring any benefit to Microsoft of the public - after all, what of any use have you ever seen come from them?

      No, the point is to place them in a "golden prison" where they cannot help OTHER companies.

      So basically it's an attempt to hamstring Yahoo, not help Microsoft.
    • "Quite different from google where each of the employee is handpicked"

      So your saying MS doesn't do interviews? They just hire without even seeing a resume?

  • rofl (Score:3, Funny)

    by Digital Warfare ( 746982 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @08:39AM (#12243236) Homepage
    Micrsoft has a 1337 group ?
    whats their CSS tag ?
  • Seems like microsoft starts to feel competitions from all around (google and yahoo) and will start to create something. However,I think the best bet is to at least make their website compatible with "standard" browsers first though (referring to previous problem with opera)
  • That thinks Dr. Flake is a really goofy name ?
  • Yoda sez... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Quixote ( 154172 ) *
    Begin, the search engine wars has.
  • by indigeek ( 755687 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @08:43AM (#12243270)
    The MS blog points to the yahoo webpage and yahoo bio of the guy
    If Yahoo wanted to have fun, this is an excellent opportunity for them to replace those pages with something else. For example "Mr.So and So was born in 1980. After a mediocre education he joined Yahoo where he plays for the Crocquet and bridge teams."
  • ...and who's money does it monetize?
  • Microsoft's way... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BJZQ8 ( 644168 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @08:49AM (#12243310) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft's recent way seems to be hiring what they consider "key" people from other, successful companies, hoping to transplant that success. But as one poster said, they're taking one very large black marker, and leaving the dozens of colored pencils that can produce a beautiful picture. Yahoo's search leaves much to be desired anyway; they should be hiring swaths of Google employees if they are serious.
    • Why do you thing they hired Cuttler?
    • by bheer ( 633842 )
      Microsoft's recent way seems to be hiring what they consider "key" people from other, successful companies

      Heh. Ironically Google's been doing this to Microsoft -- they've poached quite a few Microsofties recently: Mark Jen, Joe Beda, Adam Bosworth (via BEA), Mark Lucovsky...
    • Of course the cynical reader may view "hoping to transplant that success" as "not fussed if the transplant is successful - as long as the organ is removed from the competition".
      • Even better, hopefully the remaining members of the competition's team are infected with toxic envy. It might cost a lot to hire one guy, but if you can wreak a team and spread long-lasting poison, bonus!
    • Microsoft's recent way seems to be hiring what they consider "key" people from other, successful companies, hoping to transplant that success.

      That is actually most companies "way".

      The people who are rubbish and aren't responsible for (generally sucessful) key products and services don't tend to find themselves approached by rivals. If you are good and you have a proven track record then you will get offers - thats just how it works.

      I'm not really sure how this is news, people move from one organisatio

      • I was thinking more along the lines of this: Microsoft, an organization headed by multi-millionaires and billionaires, sees a few "key" individuals as the true strength of an organization, not the underlying masses that actually do the work. So rather than hiring teams of people, or people that can accomplish something, they hire "visionaries" and "leaders." That's my point, rather than "Microsoft hires other company's people."
        • Companies that have money in the bank and potential to grow on a market will always poach talent from each other. This happens on every level, not only on the top. Search is such a hot area now that anyone working on a remotely related field is being approached by head hunters. Universities have been drained of information retrieval researhers and there simply aren't enough knowledgeable people around to fill the openings in the key companiess. Only the top names make it to the press releases, though.
      • I can only assume that it is on here because it has Microsoft in the title and gives the editors a chance to whip out the (frankly stupid) borg icon.

        And here I thought that this morning's edition of slashdot had been personalized just for me!

        -- GWF

    • From what I've read, I don't think I personally would want to leave leave a cool workplace like Google to work for Microsoft.

      I have no doubt many MS engineers are equally as brilliant as Google ones, but maybe they just aren't given the same level of creative freedom.

      I'm too lazy to pull up the link just now but there was a story recently mentioning an ex-MS employee who was a bit peeved off I think at how long OS code was sat in the pot.

      Of course it's all hypothesis and case-dependant. We don't get to
      • I'm too lazy to pull up the link just now but there was a story recently mentioning an ex-MS employee who was a bit peeved off I think at how long OS code was sat in the pot.

        Might be this one []. Not so much peeved as wondering what kind of job satisfaction you can have at Microsoft compared to companies that put their product out as fast as Google.

    • Hiring star engineers seems to just be for bragging rights not for what they will likely contribute to the compay. It is generally the case that top people in the sciences are the top in their field for one or a few contributions and they usually don't contribute much more to the science outside of managerial administration after they are recognized as being star people. This is pretty much the same for developers and other fields. There's not much incentive to continue to be innovative once you've had a bi
      • From this perspective, hiring someone as a "Microsoft Distinguished Engineer" for something that they did outside of Microsoft seems like a boneheaded thing to do and is very likely setting him and the rest of his new team up for failure.

        And not very different from purchasing a product and slapping your brand on it, then bragging about your innovation.

    • >But as one poster said, they're taking one very large black marker, and leaving the dozens of colored pencils that can produce a beautiful picture.

      more like MS is hiring an artist who can draw a beautiful picture. MS has enough colored pencils, if you will.

      if a university pulls a nobel laureate away from another, would you say "he won't accomplish anything since there are no grad students"?

    • Actually, those 'colored pencils' get hired all the time; they get hired by Microsoft, and they get hired away from Microsoft. (And hired away from Google by Yahoo, and hired away from eBay by Amazon, and... etc, etc.) That you don't hear about it isn't a sign that it isn't happening; all it means is that they're not the sort of people that get press releases issued about them.
    • The typical Slashdot ABMer double standard is quite funny: if Microsoft hires someone away from another company, it's not that a big deal and it won't really benefit them. If, however, another company hires someone away from Microsoft, it's a major coup and creates a frenzy that the end of their dominance is nigh upon us. Ya gotta love hypocrisy.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ ( 559379 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @08:50AM (#12243325) Journal
    I would be much more impressed if they had hired someone from Google. MS needs some different thinkers and if they had hired someone from Google that would have been a coup and probably better for them as a company. They do appear overall to be changing for the better all be it at a glacial pace.

    Someone from Yahoo! is fresh blood from outside the MS culture so at least it's a beginning.
    • Would you move from Google... to Microsoft?

      I don't know about you, but if the devil came up to souls on their little floating clouds in heaven and offered them all expenses paid trips to hell, I'm not sure he'd have much success.
    • I think everyone there was at some time from "outside the Microsoft culture", but it sure seems to overwrite their code quickly.

      A long time ago John Dvorak wrote a column about how impossible it was for Microsoft to hire talent from MIT, CMU, and other top notch CS schools. Their recruiters show up on campus and all those smart young people would cringe at the thought of writing the next Word icon or some other trivial thing. Fast forward to today and you find out Microsoft can throw buckets of money to
  • by realkiwi ( 23584 )
    Does that make MSN search Flakey?
  • You're not hired by The Borg, you're assimilated...resistance is futile. Accept this eventuality.
  • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @09:00AM (#12243388)
    From a Register [] article on the subject:

    In stark contrast to some of his peers, Flake recently reminded us that "data is not information; information is not knowledge; knowledge is not wisdom." Asked by Gary Price if the internet would replace librarians, he replied,

    "Search engines can give you more data than you'll ever need, and a lot of valuable information as well, but they aren't even in the running when it comes to knowledge and wisdom."

    Zen and the Art of Search, it seems.

    • Zen and the Art of Search, it seems.

      Indeed. It's too bad that most of the comments have been cracks about his name or his new title.

      Gary Flake's The Computational Beauty of Nature [] is a classic book that anyone interested or active in engineering or computer science should own and cherish. Not only is it the best introduction and overview to explore and link together a number of popular but often confused concepts, from Fractals and Chaos to Number Theory and Computer Science, it is a beautifully writ
  • This is almost as exciting when IGN and Gamespy joined forces... I'm not sure what can come of this. Does this mean I'll get searches with more Mortgage offers and Free Credit reports?
  • MSN Flakier!
  • I hope it does better than it did at Yahoo. In the latest years, Yahoo has not been exactly the "head of R & D" in search engines. They've done a few nice things, but they're far from being the leaders on that field.
  • Many Sys Admins I know already have all incoming port 80 traffic from MS blocked owing to the poorly behaved MS Search bot.

    The search bot has slammed and saturated many Internet connections and is now blocked on every router that I configure and many of those of my colleagues too.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Dr.Gary William Flake has now joined MSN

    He'll be joining Dr. Alan U.N. Stable, Robert Bloat, Philmore Crash, Dr. Stewart Nut, and Artemis J. Clyde Frog.
  • I guess this is a coup, in a business context, but as far as acquiring a human asset that will bring actual value, how great is this, really?

    I'm a Yahoo! shareholder, and I still feel like their assets and market position is "good enough," but they've really dropped the ball in their competition with Google, as far as I'm concerned - especially in areas where Google is starting to horn in on their core market. I used to use Yahoo! as my portal, but now it's just too "loud." (It didn't help that they stoppe
  • ... is that MSN, in spite of being the default IE home page of nearly every PC that has been sold over the past several years, is still an also ran in the portal business.

    Microsoft is desperate to increase the marketshare of MSN. In hiring Dr. Flake, Microsoft thinks he will be able to bring positive change to MSN. In reality, Dr. Flake will succumb to Microsoft's culture and fall into the group-think that has made MSN the failure it is.

    • In reality, Dr. Flake will succumb to Microsoft's culture and fall into the group-think that has made MSN the failure it is.

      I have to agree with this. As brilliant as the guy is I don't see him being exceptional in his ability to avoid the process that poisoned previous talent that MS has hired. Rather than changing the company, the company changes them...and they often fall off the map altogether.

      I hope Flake is getting paid tons of money because apart from marketing spin, after a few months working
  • Seems like a compulsive job hopper. About 2 years at each of his last 4 jobs. -D
  • Lighting the way for the rest of us? Yeah, right. Sounds more like they found their way to the bank.
    • That's the first thing I thought.

      Microsoft and others destroy great technologies. One of the best examples is streaming audio and video. Real didn't create it, MS didn't create it. But they did manange to market it in such a way that everybody uses it, and nobody can save videos anymore.

      Any person who works for MS and calls themselves a luminary really needs to just be ignored.

  • by 10am-bedtime ( 11106 ) on Friday April 15, 2005 @10:35AM (#12244110)

    behind closed doors...

    • internal wet-behind-the-ears programmer newhires
      • overt messages:
      • "you are working w/ a former enemy who now is on our side"
      • "we have the greatest people working for us"
    • covert thoughts:
      • "why is he already distinguished?"
      • "feh, i can program rings around him any day"
      • "i have to learn to kiss ass yahoo style as well as usloth style now?"
      • "(wtf?)"

    internal manglement

    • overt messsages:
      • "you have control of a former enemy who now is on our side"
      • "we have deprived yahoo of a significant asset"
    • covert thoughts:
      • "we bought him, we can put him to pasture"
      • "an engineer, a member of the clueless class (snif, spit spit)"
      • "why can't i land a cushy internal liason job like that?"
  • Not much to say really. Yahoo brings out their non-compete (everyone has one it seems, so I assume they do), and Microsoft can't let him work anymore.

  • Do you HAVE to have a funny name to work at MSN Search?
  • Thats not a coup its a defection, is anyone else irratated by this misusage or is it just me?
  • They tried to recruit away my grad advisor and the Chief Scientist of Ask Jeeves last August when things were just getting underway. I think they'd recruite Sergy and Brin if they could.
  • m []

    This was announced a few days ago:

    "Yahoo! has appointed Chief Data Officer Dr. Usama Fayyad to take on oversight of Yahoo! Research Labs. [...] He also spent time at Microsoft where he founded and led the data mining and exploration group at Microsoft Research and built and shipped data mining products for Microsoft's server division."
  • Now longhorn has something to copy;)!!
  • Yahoo Search is actually improving over Google. It is very subtle, but for key information and specific information on some select topics Yahoo is now my second choice if Google loads up a bunch of crap. I remember that this is the way I use to operate with Altavista and Google.

    MSN will do well with Dr. Flake. Bring one good guy, he knows how to hire other good guys. That is how Google works, even MSFT. Secondly, the Yahoo website is quite robust.

    Web search and Bioinformatics research are hot topic
  • Heading to ...

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard