Y! vs. G

I was asked a while back if I would speak at an internal developers’ conference being held at Yahoo’s London offices. I was more than happy to. It was only later I found out that I was going to be the only non-Yahoo employee speaking… hey, no pressure or anything.

Then I saw the line-up for the day that I would speaking. The sessions ran: me, me, Douglas Crockford, me… wait a minute… THE Douglas Crockford?

None other.

This was the equivalent to being asked to play guitar while having Eric Clapton in the same room. I was understandably nervous in the run-up to the conference, but I needn’t have been. Everyone at the conference made me feel very welcome and it was pleasure to attend.

There are some very enthusiastic and savvy developers working at the company. Their enthusiasm was infectious. In fact, I may just spend my Christmas holidays making widgets and playing with APIs.

As it is, nearly all the services I’m using on Adactio Elsewhere have been snapped up by Yahoo anyway: Flickr, Upcoming, and now, Del.icio.us. All they need to do is buy Amazon and they’ll have the full set.

It would seem that Yahoo has become a cool-hunter. They are also very developer-friendly (just check out those APIs). Why is it then, that the general perception is that they are somehow stodgy? Earlier this year, Ben Hammersley wrote in The Guardian about the disconnect between the reality and the public perception of Yahoo and Google:

“Yahoo is the new Google. Google is the new Yahoo. Up is down, and black is white.”

But Yahoo’s effort’s don’t seem to have resulted in a corresponding shift in attitude towards the company. The reaction to the recent purchase of Del.icio.us, for example, has been less than enthusiastic. Stan says:

“There is something that feels really dirty to me about what just happened with del.icio.us. A great tool is made and a great community forms around it, then the tool is sold and the community along with it.”

Would the reaction have been the same if Google had been the company doing the purchasing?

Despite having cooler APIs and more standards-savvy blogging workers, Yahoo is still perceived as being “The Man” as in “working for the man”, whereas Google is seen as being “The Man” as in “You the man!”.

Have you published a response to this? :

Previously on this day

16 years ago I wrote Patent madness

Here’s a great piece by Maciej Ceglowski celebrating the scientific achievements of the Wright brothers but decrying the intellectual bankruptcy of the patent system that so obsessed them:

17 years ago I wrote Away

I’m off to Ireland today.

18 years ago I wrote Leaving on a jet plane

I’m taking leave of Brighton for a few weeks.

18 years ago I wrote Contacts -> iPod

This is a really clever piece of freeware.