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Yahoo plans to invest in hackers

Hackers help Yahoo convert ideas into products

Yahoo is considering investing in hackers with good ideas and technologies, a company executive said on Saturday.

"We are open to many ways of having a stake in creative young companies," said Jeff Kinder, Yahoo’s senior vice president for media products and solutions, on the sidelines of a Yahoo Open Hack Day in Bangalore.

The internet company does not have a fund earmarked for this purpose, or a definite model or set of criteria for such investments, Kinder added.

Hackers and Open Hack Days have proven to be important sources of new ideas and technologies for Yahoo, Kinder said. Meme, now a microblogging site, was transformed from an internal Yahoo product idea into a product on Yahoo’s platform after an Open Hack Day in Brazil in late 2008.

When the APIs (application programming interfaces) for Meme on YQL (Yahoo Query Language) were opened up for hackers at the Open Hack Day in Brazil, the developers built tools to help derive more value out of Meme. "In short, the developer community really helped us build this product to what it is today, thanks to Open Hack Day," a Yahoo spokesman said.

Meme has been rolled out in a number of countries including Brazil, the Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Taiwan, and India.

Koprol, a mobile location-based social networking site in Indonesia, that was acquired by Yahoo in May, was also set up by hackers who had their technology showcased at the Yahoo Hack Day in Indonesia last year, Kinder said.

Starting as an internal event for Yahoo developers, Hack Days were later extended to developers in a number of locations including London, Brazil, Taiwan, and Bangalore.

For the event in Bangalore, which was the third in the city, there were 1,800 registrants, of which about 500 were selected to participate. There were also 123 hacks at the event, making it the largest Open Hack Day so far hosted by Yahoo, the Yahoo spokesman said.

Open Hack Days also help Yahoo get feedback on its new APIs (application programming interfaces) and technologies, such as YAP (Yahoo Application Platform) and YQL, Kinder said. “Open Hack Days bring up a lot of ideas which contribute to our thinking within the company,” he added.


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