Yahoo! Sharpens Research Edge
Michael Schwarz seems out of place in a crowd of hip, breezy Internet entrepreneurs gathered at a San Francisco bar as they celebrate the latest resurgence of all things Internet.
Brainy, contemplative and deliberate in his responses, the 36-year-old former Harvard economist stands in contrast to other revelers, many of whom owe their success more to an instinctive, gut-driven penchant for capitalizing on the next Internet trend than to any kind of reflection.
After all, the latest wave of Internet success stories -- video-sharing site YouTube, notorious for the oddball video uploads it carries, not to mention the $1.6 billion Google (GOOG) shelled out for it in October; college networking site Facebook.com; or news-voting site Digg.com -- seem more like flukes than deliberate science projects that could benefit from meditative types.
But Yahoo! (YHOO), Schwarz's employer, is betting otherwise. The contributions of Schwarz and other researchers to the development of the Web may be larger than they appear, thanks to a push by the company.The Internet giant is snapping up academics like Schwarz and arming them with reams of data it generates -- about 12 terabytes per day -- in the hope that it will be able to glean new, massively profitable insights into the way that users behave on the Web.
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