Scribbles and Bits

by Derek Gathright

I’m a Yahoo

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When I attended Yahoo’s HackDay ‘08 at their Sunnyvale headquarters, I was so impressed with the people, the event, the technology, and the culture at Yahoo, that I made working for Yahoo one of my career goals. Well, it came a little sooner than I expected, and I’m thrilled to say that starting Nov 23rd, 2009, I can scratch “A career with Yahoo” off my bucket list.

Why Yahoo?

There are a number of reasons why Yahoo is so appealing to me at this point in my career.

The Scale: As a developer, there is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that millions of people are happily using your products. With billions of pageviews per day across the Yahoo network of sites, there are only a handful of companies that can offer similar challenges as Yahoo (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and maybe a few others). At Yahoo, I expect to learn what it takes to code and assemble massively scalable web applications. Not many developers get a chance to work on products this large, and it is certainly an opportunity I find invaluable.

The Collective: Yahoo employs roughly 15,000 people, and thousands of those are software engineers working on some of the largest products used on the web. I’m confident that whatever problems I may run into on a daily basis, there is someone at Yahoo that has the knowledge to help me out. I can name dozens of current and former Yahoo employees that have inspired me in one way or another during my career, and I’m sure I’ll meet dozens more.

The Products: Yahoo certainly has its fair-share of best of breed products on the internet. The jewels are of course the Yahoo portal, Yahoo Mail, and Flickr. Beyond that, there are some other very successful products throughout the years, including; Yahoo Games, GeoCities, Messenger, Music, Movies, News, and Sports. All of which I’ve used extensively at one point or another. My first Yahoo account I created when I was 15, and I am now 28. There’s certainly a sense of pride and satisfaction knowing that I’ve been a happy customer of my future employer for 13 years.

The Culture: Yahoo puts an enormous amount of resources into their Developer Network and open-source technologies. As an advocate of open-source software, it’s a thrill to know I’m working for a company that values it as much as I do. It’s a shame that some of the neatest tools Yahoo has to offer are still unknown or unused by many developers (YQL, Pipes, & YUI), and I will certainly do my best to evangelize the incredible tools Yahoo has offered to the community.

The Location: Having lived in/near Kansas City my whole life, I love it here, but between October and March sometimes you wish you could take a vacation to Hell just so you can warm up a little bit. I’ve been to Southern California probably a dozen times throughout my life, and it doesn’t take more than a few minutes of the ocean breeze, the palm trees, and the sunshine before you don’t want to ever leave.

Since I signed the paperwork and this whole thing became a reality, it has certainly taken a while to sink in. I still don’t think it has fully sunk in, and even after my going away party this weekend, boarding that flight to LA on the 22nd, it still may even take sitting down at my desk before I finally realize what just happened. So needless to say, I’m thrilled with the opportunity Yahoo has presented, and during my time there I will do my best to ensure it is as rewarding for them as it is for me.

Finally, I wanted to thank Fred & Mary Kay Fosnacht for sharing their dream with me over the last 3 years. Working for Catholic Content has been an amazing experience and certainly has been life-changing. I can safely say that my career wouldn’t have been the same without their confidence and encouragement and I will always be grateful for the opportunities they’ve given me.