Why I can never leave Yahoo!

A true story: soon after Yahoo’s purchase of Inktomi, a hundred of us Inktomites took a day trip to Sunnyvale for a mass orientation. In addition to the usual HR informational stuff that any new hire would get, there were good inspirational talks about Yahoo’s commitment to search, which we were beginning to believe. By late afternoon the mood was cheerful, even festive.

At that point, an extremely chipper and cheerful woman from HR took the mike, and after talking for a little while, said that we should all come stand at the front of the room. A hundred geeks stepped forward, suspecting some kind of team-building exercise, but still in pretty good humor about it all. Then she said “The executive team thought it would be _really_ _fun_ if we all sang a _song_ together to celebrate your joining Yahoo!”. (A couple of us became slightly nervous at that point.) Then she said “We thought it would be _especially_ fun if we sang “We Are the World”, since we’re all going to be working together!” (Looks of genuine alarm are shared, but no one is willing to unilaterally make a bolt for it.)

So: we begin to sing. Not just sing but _sway_ back and forth (under direction), arms around each others’ shoulders. And as we sing, I remember that “fun” is a very similar word to “funny”. And I remember that there is an important distinction to make about funny things: laughing with vs. laughing at. And then, horrifyingly, I remember that the whole day’s proceedings is being _videotaped_. But by then it’s too late. (And yes, there were replays later, and great hilarity about what they’d managed to get the Inktomi guys to do.)

I don’t want to leave Y! anyway — the work is fascinating, the reach is large, the problems are hard, the people are great. But if I did want to leave … I know they still have that videotape somewhere.

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