Ex talk: Former Yahoo on Facebook patent suit; going negative on Google+

A couple of people who have jumped ship at Yahoo and Google aren’t being shy about voicing their displeasure and providing the rest of us with some insight into the goings-on behind the scenes. Coincidentally, the goings-on are related to an enemy the Silicon Valley companies have in common: Facebook.

• A former Yahoo programmer writes for Wired that the work of others like him is being “weaponized” in the patent lawsuit Yahoo has filed against Facebook. “It’s an attack on invention and the hacker ethic,” says Andy Baio, who says he was granted some patents for work he did while at Yahoo. Baio, who’s no fan of software patents and says he’ll never file for another one again, says Yahoo told its employees that the Sunnyvale company was stocking up patents for defensive measures: “I thought I was giving them a shield, but turns out I gave them a missile with my name permanently engraved on it.”

Baio isn’t the only one blasting Yahoo over its lawsuit, which involves patents he says are purposely vaguely worded they could apply to anything.  (See copy of lawsuit on SV.com; see what paidContent calls its English translation of patents such as “a customized homepage” and “messaging your friends.”)  GigaOm’s Om Malik points out that just about everyone else in the tech industry is. Reminder: The bashing began as soon as the word got out that Yahoo was planning to sue. (See Sue happy together: Yahoo threatens patent suit against Facebook…) Malik also says there has been “simmering animosity” between Yahoo and Facebook for a while, born out of what he calls Yahoo basically handing over its user base to Facebook.

In the smartphone industry, patent lawsuits are ringing off the hook. Experts are predicting that Yahoo vs. Facebook is just the first of many more social-networking patent suits to come, according to Brandon Bailey of the Mercury News.

• “The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.” So says James Whittaker, writing from a Microsoft blog. (He was with Microsoft before his stint at Google; he has now returned to that big Google rival.) Whittaker says that under Google CEO Larry Page, who last year took back the reins, “social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+.” Basically, Whittaker is saying Google is force-feeding social down Googlers’ and users’ throats, and chasing Facebook at its peril. One example would be Google’s updated privacy policy, which gathers Google’s many offerings into a single platform. That change, which went into effect at the beginning of the month, freaked many people out. (See Google’s latest controversial move: updating its privacy policy. What will it think of next?)

Mike Swift of the Mercury News took a look at what Google is doing in the face of increased competition. The company’s “don’t be evil” motto is coming back to bite it: The search giant’s critics and others are now questioning the company’s commitment to it. Swift quoted longtime Google watcher John Battelle. Battelle addresses the social mandate Whittaker was talking about: “I think Larry Page identified that as the single most threatening thing Google faces and set about fixing it, and he’s breaking some eggs to do it.”


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  • Carol

    I guess I just don’t understand the need for Google+. Even though I have one (because I have gmail and other Google offerings) I don’t use it and no one I know uses it. I think its a mistake for them to try to be a Facebook clone. The biggest reason I don’t use it is because I don’t understand how to control what people see. It’s kind of unnerving when someone I have no clue as to who they are, ‘follows’ me. Kinda creepy don’t you think? At least I understand Facebook privacy and have my account locked down pretty well. And for someone to ‘follow’ me there I have to give permission. Not so with Google+ (or at least I’ve not figured out how to fix that…).

    I wish these tech companies would start innovating again and stop copying. Copying is boring…..