Yahoo!: 'Our search talent is here to stay'

What to do when Bing takes over


Yahoo! says that even after Microsoft assumes control of its search engine listings, it will retain many of its most talented search engineers.

In July of last year, after an epic gestation period, Carol Bartz and company signed a ten-year search pact with Steve Ballmer and Microsoft that will see Bing serve up search listings to Yahoo! users. And though the deal specifies that 400 engineers will eventually move from Yahoo! to Microsoft, Yahoo! chief architect Raymie Stata tells The Reg that he expects a good number of the company's top search brains to stay with the company and put their expertise to work on other services.

Though it wasn't widely reported in the press, the deal also requires Microsoft to provide Yahoo! with a copy of its web crawl - its database of known webpages - and Yahoo! search engineers are needed to put this data to use across countless other services. "Microsoft will provide Yahoo! with (and maintain) a copy of its web crawl cache for Yahoo! to use for other services," the company tells us. "This way, Yahoo! can leverage an up to date index for non-search uses without having to do its own crawl or continually hit the Microsoft search engine with its non search calls."

The crawl, Stata says, is the least interesting part of search engineering. With Microsoft handling the crawl, he explains, Yahoo! engineers can put their minds to work on other things.

Plus, Stata expects that Yahoo! will do some additional crawling to fill in any "holes" in Microsoft's crawl cache. Yahoo! is not obligated to share these crawls with Microsoft, but in the interest of improving the search results on its site, it may do so.

An SEC filing on the Microsoft-Yahoo! deal details Redmond's obligation to provide access to its crawl cache. The cache will sit on a server in a Microsoft co-location facility. This is completely separate from Yahoo!'s integration with Bing. Bing - running on Microsoft's servers - will power all search results on Yahoo!, though Yahoo! will still control the interface around these results.

"Microsoft will provide Yahoo! with the same search result listings available through Bing, and Yahoo! will innovate around those listings by integrating rich Yahoo! content, enhanced listings with conveniently organized information about key topics, and tools to tailor the experience for Yahoo! users," the company tells us.

Though Stata claims that Yahoo! will hang onto its key talent - including search talent, no less - there have been some big-name departures since the Microsoft deal went down. First, the company lost Doug Cutting, the man who founded Hadoop, the open source distributed number-crunching platform that helps run several Yahoo! services. Before the Microsoft deal, Yahoo! liked to call its search webmap "the world's largest Hadoop application," but Cutting said his departure to Hadoop startup Cloudera was unrelated to the pact.

Yahoo! also lost PHP founder Rasmus Lerdorf, who simply said it was time for something new. And in mid-March, chief technologist Sam Pullara left the company for a venture capital outfit. ®

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