Saturday, November 15, 2008

Few weeks on the Yahoo! US campus

Since few months, I'm working on a key feature of Yahoo! Mail planned to be launched in 2009,
from Product Management to Product design, passing by Product Development. This project is probably the most complex I had to work on since I'm at Yahoo! So at some point, to be able to write the PRD (Product requirement document), I had to travel and meet the Yahoo! product and engineering teams in Sunnyvale. Looks good to me!

This is for sure one of the advantages of working for a big company like Yahoo!. The downside is to have your face picture on Valley Wag the day of your layoff, fortunately I'm not there yet. I spent two weeks in San Francisco, taking the Yahoo! Shuttle to commute to Sunnyvale campus everyday (1:30 each way).

I've been amazed by the campus ambiance, there is definitely an emulation there that we don't have in Europe. I would say, the valley seems to be a geeks' microcosm. Let me explain, the vision of people in the valley when it comes to users' education and demand is very different. Let's say you've been using Photoshop exclusively to do illustration design for about 10 years. One day Adobe force you to migrate to Illustrator, would you understand this new interface in 10s and never think about asking to be switched back? If not, you're probably not smart enough or potentially from India or something.

Don't get me wrong, even if it drives bad product management decisions sometimes, it also drives a big amount of innovation, contributing to a massive flow of new online business every single month. I think that in Europe we are less optimistic (naive?) about online business in general, so we try less which means less success at the end of the day... That's also probably why it's more difficult to lever money in Europe, we are more sceptic, less enthusiastic, more conservative!

I was in the valley when Sequoia capital send out their "RIP Good times" deck to their portfolio. It was a bit hard for me to feel the panic from Yahoo! Cause I think we actually don't. Or at least people in the Yahoo! Mail team don't.

2009 is gonna be a pretty interesting year with increasing users' expectations.
I guess it will be harder than ever to satisfy in 2009 for big actors like Yahoo!, Ebay or Google. You'll see I bet Google search ACSI score will decrease this year.
A new era for start-ups will come soon.

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