Developing an Innovation Process at Yahoo: Q&A with Flickr Co-founder Caterina Fake
News.com has a good Q&A with Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr [credit for the assist to Peter Gruman for pointing me to this article]. In 2005, Fake sold the start-up to Yahoo. Now, as leader of Yahoo’s technology development group, Fake’s mandate is new products, innovation, culture and rapid development.
Points I found interesting in this article:
Jeff Weiner, head of the division at Yahoo, asked Fake early on, “How can we build the next Flickr at Yahoo?” Fake responded with a laugh and said, “No way, Jose, that will ever happen here.” Now she is tasked with solving that problem. That’s a funny story, but actually a good first step in developing an innovation process.
According to Fake: “There are tons of amazing ideas in big companies, and no innovation deficit. But the obstacle to getting things built is mostly process. There is one kind of process developed for building and maintaining large-scale products… And the development processes for that are very different from what it takes to build a new product in a short amount of time.”
Different processes are needed for established products of scale and developing new innovative products. Fake says: “If you have 200 million mail clients, you need structure, reliability, uptime and dependability. Those things are very different from launch fast, take risks and embrace failure. Bureaucracy has its purpose, which is to keep the trains running on time. But building in small teams and launching early and often, bugs and all, is a very different proposition.”
What lessons can be learned from virtual worlds? There is power in community and interaction with other people; the love of creation. Fake says: “It used to be that entertainment consisted of mass-produced content that people in Hollywood or record labels would decide what we needed and wanted. You have so much of a stronger attachment to what you made or your friends. There is something more genuine about it.”
(Photo credit: Caterina)