All in the <head>

– Ponderings & code by Drew McLellan –

– Live from The Internets since 2003 –


Joining Yahoo!

5 August 2006

This week I started working for Yahoo!, as seems to be the fashion these days. I’ve joined Chris Heilmann, Stuart Colville, Mike Davies, Norm Francis and a whole bunch of other talented and clueful web developers in Yahoo! Europe’s London office, tucked away nicely at the edge of Covent Garden. I have to say I’m pretty excited to be joining a company that seems to really get it when it comes to the web – from my perspective, the fact the Yahoo! is currently the biggest publisher of microformatted data says a lot.

Obviously, I’ve been hearing an awful lot of criticism, since talking to people about my move, that Yahoo! is apparently trying to hire most of the UK standards-aware development community. This is something I’ve had to think carefully about when considering my decision to join. Ultimately, I’ve failed to find a compelling argument as to why it’s bad for Yahoo! to be hiring lots of well-known developers. From the company’s point of view, they’re getting proven developers who know their stuff. From the community’s point of view, this isn’t Google or Apple where good bloggers go to die. Yahoo! is one of the biggest destinations on the web, and such a display of the desire to publish valid, accessible and semantically rich content is overwhelmingly positive. For me personally, I get to work somewhere where I don’t have to fight for best practises, and I get to work with a bunch of great people who feel the same way.

This is also something completely new for me. I’ve always worked in very small companies, mostly design and branding agencies, which I’ve been one of a very small number (like one or two) of web developers. I’ve worked places where we’ve had to eBay printers to buy more storage space of our email server (true story). The last two companies I’ve worked for failed to provide me with a computer that wasn’t frustratingly under-spec’d for the work I was being asked to do. Of course, I’m aware that I’ll be swapping one set of annoyances for another, but it really is nice to turn up on my first day to “here’s your MacBook Pro – we knew you’d want a Mac” and “go down to IT and get a screen – ask for one of the big ones!”. It doesn’t take much to make a webdev happy.

Anyway, as I’ve stated on my new about page – and as one is required to say in these circumstances – everything I write here continues to be my own personal views and opinions, and not that of my employer. Yahoo! has spokespeople, and I’m not one of them. I’m a web developer. Also, don’t expect a great shift in the content of this site. There are plenty of places you can go to read about how ‘fantastic’ the YUI library etc is, and this isn’t going to be one of them. Promise.

- Drew McLellan


  1. § Phil Sherry:

    Congratulations, man!

  2. § Meri:

    Congratulations!! We had wondered, given all the photos of the Yahoo! office…

  3. § Dave Cardwell:

    Excellent news – congrats.

  4. § Stuart Maynard-Keene:

    Congrats. What a nice welcome present!

  5. § Jeff Croft:

    Congrats, Drew! Yahoo is quietly kicking everyone else’s ass, and hiring brilliant people is a large part of the reason why.

  6. § Steve Ganz:

    Great move, Drew. Congrats!

  7. § Cal Evans:



  8. § Matt Wilcox:

    Congratulations. It’s nice to see such a large company seeming to take such an interest in ‘doing the web properly’. I hope you have a lot of fun there!

  9. § Keith:

    Very cool! Good luck and congrats!

  10. § Molly E. Holzschlag:

    Best congrats, Drew. I for one am delighted for you.

    Molly :)

  11. § Phu:

    Congratulations Drew! It sounds like a good place to be:)

    “Yahoo! is apparently trying to hire most of the UK standards-aware development community”
    You’re not the only one to be unconvinced by this as a criticism; surely, that’s a sign of a successful hiring strategy to go for qualified and capable talent and thus a good thing? Of course there are secondary benefits for Yahoo beyond getting good developers on board but getting smart people together can only be a good thing. If there is anything we’ve learnt, that is that getting a group of good minds together acts as a catalyst for good ideas.

  12. § Ben Metcalfe:

    Hi Drew, congratulations.

    I agree with Phu’s sentiments: I don’t see what’s wrong with joining Yahoo!, especially here in London where the job market is pretty sad for those aspiring to work at the pinicle of web development.

    There’s basically the BBC or Yahoo!

    Google UK might get interesting in the future, if it decides to go beyond just just mobile development at it’s London HQ, but until then…

    So I say good luck.

  13. § Jim Ley:

    Yahoo and BBC are the pinnacle of web development? 2 companies producing sites chock full of XSS flaws, that is really rather depressing…

    Congrats on the job though Drew, the criticism of companies that are just hiring talent without focus, is a criticism of the company strategy – do they know what they’re doing? do they have sufficient and interesting work for the talent to do useful stuff and not just leave.

    Similar criticisms happen to say Chelsea who buy up lots of talent who are going to do nothing but sit on the bench.

    They may of course have a great strategy, but they’ll need to start producing something revolutionary soon to justify the cost of the talent, and not small changes to existing products that are full of XSS flaws.

  14. § Jeremy Zawodny:

    Welcome to Yahoo!

  15. § Joe Clark:

    People are giving you stick for landing a nice steady job that uses your skills and expertise appropriately?

    People are seriously doing that?

    You’re supposed to do what instead – take a vow of poverty?

  16. § Jonathan Snook:

    Congrats Drew. Will this mean the end of ASP and SQL Server posts (as few and far between as they were)? ;)

    Oh, those Yahooligans.

  17. § Paul Stamatiou:

    Have fun! I just finished up my Sunnyvale Y! internship and it was a blast.

  18. § Steve Webster:

    Congratulations Drew. I’ll be joining you there in two weeks! I won’t be offended if you haven’t heard of me since I mainly hang out in the Flash communities (cue mandatory collective groan) but getting to play with you standards guys is going to be a cool experience.

  19. § Andy Brockhurst:

    Snap, me too, just finishing up a contract, them I’m Y! bound for the 4th Sept.

  20. § nate koechley:

    Welcome aboard, Drew. Very excited to have you here. Let’s find time to chat once you get established.

  21. § Chris Heilmann:

    What are you doing posting? I thought you wanted to finish some work till tomorrow? No cookies for you!

    Seriously though, I am very happy to have you in the office, too, and especially sharing the same new and exciting research and work area. I seriously think that this team can do a lot together and we have the right people to give us the time and material to do so.

    I confess that a lot of the hiring was me asking people to join and forwarding their CVs, bypassing the normal annoying process of going through agencies. So far, I got 4 people I really wanted to work with in with me :) Right now, I’m trying to get some for the Munich office.

  22. § Dustin Diaz:

    Welcome bro. It’s too bad you’re on the other side of the world (from my perspective). Besides that, I congratulate you and wish you the best of luck in your new position and career.

    And as always, anytime we are near, we must be sure to grab a beer and chat geek stuff.

  23. § Ethan:

    Posts like this will teach me to take a long weekend offline, and off of the newsreader.

    Belated congratulations, Drew. Yahoo’s damned lucky to get you. Best of luck, and have fun.

  24. § simon r jones:

    i’m a bit late here, but congratulations Drew. Sounds like an excellent opportunity

  25. § Paul Cripps:

    “eBay printers”... hmm and plasmas as I recall ;)

    Congratulations dude, you deserve the job.

  26. § Nicholas:

    Welcome aboard.

  27. § Paul Williams:

    Hey Drew – Congrats on the move! and sorry for the late comment! I can’t believe it’s over 3 months since I looked at your site, but since it is that long since I moved to Perth I figure that is about right! All the best – now I’m wishing I could come back to London… Cheers! Paul.

  28. § Charles Ferndale:

    28th July 09

    Today I tried repeatedly to access my email using the address I have been unable to get any response; it is as if the email address no longer exists. For days you have been threatening to close down my email address on the grounds that it is unused, but, as a journalist, I use it daily. Indeed, it is vital for my living. I have sent you numerous emails asking for clarification. In your replies you say you do not understand my problem. Now you appear to have closed down my site. Have you the legal right to do this? The financial losses to me will be enormous. For me the professional consequences are very serious indeed.

    As it happens you appear to have done exactly the same thing to the email address of a friend of mine, but, in his case, you did not even give him a warning.

    You can’t now communicate with me unless you reopen my site, unlerss you do so by moblie phone; 07527580775


    Charles Ferndale


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About Drew McLellan

Photo of Drew McLellan

Drew McLellan (@drewm) has been hacking on the web since around 1996 following an unfortunate incident with a margarine tub. Since then he’s spread himself between both front- and back-end development projects, and now is Director and Senior Web Developer at in Maidenhead, UK (GEO: 51.5217, -0.7177). Prior to this, Drew was a Web Developer for Yahoo!, and before that primarily worked as a technical lead within design and branding agencies for clients such as Nissan, Goodyear Dunlop, Siemens/Bosch, Cadburys, ICI Dulux and Somewhere along the way, Drew managed to get himself embroiled with Dreamweaver and was made an early Macromedia Evangelist for that product. This lead to book deals, public appearances, fame, glory, and his eventual downfall.

Picking himself up again, Drew is now a strong advocate for best practises, and stood as Group Lead for The Web Standards Project 2006-08. He has had articles published by A List Apart, Adobe, and O’Reilly Media’s, mostly due to mistaken identity. Drew is a proponent of the lower-case semantic web, and is currently expending energies in the direction of the microformats movement, with particular interests in making parsers an off-the-shelf commodity and developing simple UI conventions. He writes here at all in the head and, with a little help from his friends, at 24 ways.