Yahoo Heads to Berkeley for Internet Research

 
 
By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-07-16 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Yahoo opens a research lab in conjunction with the University of California, delving into the Web-related sciences of search and social media.

As it races to keep pace with changes on the Internet, Yahoo is heading back to school. The company that operates the nations most popular Internet site announced on Friday that it has partnered with the University of California at Berkeley to create a joint research lab near the universitys campus. Called Yahoo Research Labs–Berkeley, the lab marks Yahoo Inc.s first expansion of its research group outside its own offices in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Pasadena, Calif.
The lab also is part of a research shift for Yahoo, away from a sole focus on applied research and toward more fundamental scientific research into Internet-related areas such as search and information navigation, online communities, and social and mobile media, said Usama Fayyad, senior vice president and chief data officer at Yahoo.
"The real intention behind this in spirit and physically is that we want to tap into the creative knowledge out there on campus, and it adds another dimension where it provides the people thinking in an academic environment with a fast outlet for [their ideas]," Fayyad said. Fayyad took over the helm of Yahoo Research Labs in April following the departure of principal scientist Gary Flake, who moved to Microsoft Corp.s MSN division as a distinguished engineer. Yahoos research group originated from its acquisition of Overture Services in 2003.
The lab also gives Yahoo access to more academics and researchers at a time when it is locked in a heated battle for talent with competitors such as Google Inc. and Microsoft. Read more here about Microsoft Researchs search efforts. Yahoo is tapping a leading social media researcher, Berkeley Professor Marc Davis, to lead the new lab, which is scheduled to open in August. Davis is taking a leave of absence from the universitys School of Information Management and Systems, where one of his roles was as the director of UC Berkeleys Center for New Media. So far, the joint lab has attracted about 10 full-time researchers and staff. Research at the lab will primarily focus on social and mobile media. Tackling those emerging research areas requires diving into online communities and working with the scale of Yahoos services, Davis said. Yahoo drew 372 million unique users worldwide in the first quarter of this year, a pool of interactions and connections that is tough to replicate in a traditional academic research setting, Davis said. "Scale matters, and scale matters because managing personal media yourself has been difficult to do," he said. "The scale of Yahoo and the Internet makes it possible for people to work together." Click here to read about a search-popularity experiment launched by Yahoo researchers. Yahoo is planning to continue to expand its research labs beyond the new Berkeley site and its staff of 40, though Fayyad declined to provide details on the companys plans. Researchers also are increasingly focused on publishing through academic circles. "We dont want just advanced technology but basic scientific research to happen," Fayyad said of the labs. "The challenges were coming up with on the Internet, they require deep scientific thought." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.
 
 
 
 
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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