Yahoo, UC Berkeley Join to Create Research Lab

Contact Wendy Qi at [email protected]

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UC Berkeley and Internet media giant Yahoo Inc. announced last Friday that they will team up to establish a joint research laboratory aimed at exploring social and mobile media technology.

Marc Davis, a professor of information management and systems at UC Berkeley, will lead the Yahoo Research Labs-Berkeley site, which will open off-campus next month. Davis also directs the Garage Cinema Research Group, an organization aimed at bringing media and consumers closer together.

"By working together, Yahoo and UC Berkeley will change the future of Internet media for millions of people around the world," Davis wrote in a statement.

UC Berkeley was selected as the site of Yahoo's newest research and development lab after an intern, UC Berkeley doctorate student Ryan Shaw, informally introduced the work of Garage Cinema Research to Yahoo last summer.

"We put two and two together, and it was exactly what we were looking for," Yahoo spokesperson Kiersten Hollars said.

Yahoo will focus research at the lab around mobile and social technology, especially social media and understanding more about user behavior, Hollars said said.

As one of the few technology companies engaged in social media research, Yahoo expects the lab to be one of several steps in providing a center in both academic and social research, Hollars said.

While the project will be completely funded by Yahoo, it will be staffed by a group of 10 to 20 researchers comprised of Yahoo employees and UC Berkeley students and faculty.

According to Yahoo officials, any developments made by the laboratory will be subject to joint patenting between the company and the University of California on a case-by-case basis.

While Yahoo currently operates two other research facilities in the state, located in Pasadena and Sunnyvale, this is the first partnership it has made with a higher-education institute.

"When you bring together the world's leading Internet company and one of the world's top academic institutions, the possibilities are endless," said Usama Fayyad, Yahoo senior vice president, in a statement Friday.

San Jose based computer chip developer Intel is the only other corporation that funds a UC Berkeley affiliated research lab in its entirety. Located on Shattuck Avenue, the Intel Research Laboratory at Berkeley is one of four research sites the company operates globally.

The Yahoo research lab is currently budgeted to operate for five to 10 years, but Yahoo officials anticipate a longer involvement, depending on results as well as other factors.

"We think this will be really successful. It's a unique relationship and the first of its kind where we can pool fresh, young ideas from one of the leading public universities in the nation," Hollars said.


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