Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Implications of a Microsoft-Yahoo Deal for Research?

After months of speculation, the news today is full of reports of a Microsoft-Yahoo deal for search. Here is a CNN article, and I'm sure you can find others.

One thing I've read about the deal is that by using Bing, Yahoo will save on research and other expenses for its own search. Similarly, since Yahoo will focus on the advertising network to monetize the search, perhaps Microsoft will invest less on research there. Of course this is speculative; while I'm sure cost savings will come to mind, I imagine engineering and infrastructure are more obvious place for cost saving cuts than research.

But I am certainly hoping this will not adversely affect the research going on these places, especially at Yahoo, which seems to me to be more at risk (given the company's financial issues over the last several years), and which has really been doing a lot interesting and visible research lately. For example, check out their research blurb on their success at KDD/SIGMOD/PODS. Or check out their blurb on their current featured research project, Similarity Caching.

Let's be clear -- I'm very biased here. My past student Adam Kirsch did a summer internship at Yahoo; my past mentor Andrei Broder is there; I've received some research funding from Yahoo Research and written several papers with researchers there. From what I've seen, I think they're an impressive research organization. Two of their main focus areas are Search and Web Mining and Computational Advertising. I hope that nothing in the deal lessens the importance to Yahoo of supporting and developing research in these areas.


Chrystal K. said...

I can’t believe this deal was in the making for ten years.

Anonymous said...

I can’t believe this deal was in the making for ten years.

It wasn't. The ten years are the length of time it lasts, not the length of the negotiations that led to it.

Anonymous said...

It is summer now! We so wish to see this blog gets updated more frequently!

SiliconValleyComputerScientist said...

The Microsoft-Yahoo! deal is likely very good for Yahoo!'s stockholders, likely good for Microsoft (in terms of getting hold of Yahoo!'s advertiser rolodex and user base), certainly very likely very good for Ms. Bartz herself, who probably will receive a hefty bonus for this.

The one group of people that this will likely hurt seriously is the talented corp of engineers in the Silicon Valley, and worse yet the absolutely fantastic research organization that Prabhakar Raghavan has put together. However this plays out, I am confident that the researchers will land on their feet (as a group or as smaller units or as individuals), and my very best wishes to them.

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