Mobile, Media, Marc, and Me.

In the last year or so since joining Yahoo!, I’ve met some really
amazing people–folks I continue to learn from on a daily basis. It’s
one of the best things about being here. So in that vein, I’m psyched
that today we’re announcing that UC Berkeley Professor href="http://garage.sims.berkeley.edu/marc.cfm">Marc Davis will be
joining Yahoo! as the Founding Director of the Yahoo! Research
Labs–Berkeley.

I’ve known Marc since we were both grad students at the href="http://www.media.mit.edu/">MIT Media Lab back in the early
90′s. I always loved the Media Lab’s “Demo or Die!” credo (as opposed
to mainstream academia’s more typical “Publish or Perish!” version.)
One of the reasons I have so much respect for Marc’s work is that in
addition to being a world-renowned academic, he’s also done the
entrepreneurial thing (as founder/CTO of his own href="http://www.amova.com/">startup), worked in a corporate
research environment, etc. Marc’s research has that “it” factor –
inevitably, it leaves me wondering “Why didn’t I think of that?” His
work lives at the nexus of the field’s most exciting areas: social
computing, context-aware computing, mobile and media. In fact, to a
large extent, his work and research embodies the Yahoo! Search “ href="http://battellemedia.com/archives/001473.php">FUSE”
vision.

I’ve had a number of friends who are MIT Professors give talks at
Yahoo! over the past year–incredible pioneers like href="http://web.media.mit.edu/~sandy/">Sandy Pentland, href="http://smg.media.mit.edu/people/Judith/">Judith Donath, href="http://lieber.www.media.mit.edu/people/lieber/">Henry
Lieberman, and href="http://plw.media.mit.edu/people/maeda/">John Maeda. When
Marc visited last year, we discovered huge overlap in vision, mission
and direction. After his talk, we were left with one lingering
question: “How do we get Marc to Yahoo!?” His response:
“Flattered… but the timing isn’t great.” Alas, Marc was mid-way
through his tenure track position at UC Berkeley.

However, over the subsequent months it became clear to Marc–based
on the people he met here, the resources we’re investing, and the
vision he saw–that Yahoo! presented an opportunity that was too good
to turn down. So we worked together to structure an agreement with
the University that afforded Marc the best of both worlds. He could
have his cake, and eat it too… and serve up a slice to nearly 400M
monthly visitors to boot.

Marc is a “talent magnet,” and many of his foremost students and
collaborators will be joining us too. Thus, this announcement
foreshadows some very interesting developments at href="http://research.yahoo.com/">Yahoo! Research Labs.

It’s definitely a special time in the online world in general, and
specifically at Yahoo!. The opportunity to work on a daily basis with
social media vanguards like Marc Davis, Stewart Butterfield and
Caterina Fake of Flickr ensures I learn something every day. Almost
like being back on campus.

Bradley Horowitz

Dir. Technology Development

Yahoo! Search

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