Every time I pass the Microsoft Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View, I’m amused and amazed that a Microsoft campus is in close proximity to Yahoo, Google, and other Silicon Valley bellwethers. The talent here is amazing!
If you haven’t done so already, check out BingTweets, which fuses Bing’s search results and real-time content from Twitter.
The San Jose Mercury News carried an interesting story over the weekend about how Bing’s Silicon Valley-based team beat search engine giant Google to real-time search. Interestingly, Microsoft engineers Chad Carson and Eric Scheel, and their boss Sean Suchter— formerly VP of Search at Yahoo, planned it all aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 321 enroute to Seattle. The new search team at the Silicon Valley campus includes heavyweights like database expert and former IBMer Ashok K. Chandra— “a professorial presence who sounds like a poet when he compares creating computer algorithms to the view from the summit of Mount Whitney”, and Shubha Nabar, a “newly-minted” Ph. D. from Stanford.
By the time Flight 321 was over Oregon, the group in Row 6 had evolved from a technology klatch to a cabal of plotters who scrawled a schematic tangle of boxes on a sheet of paper to map out something no big Internet search engine had yet achieved. The three members of Microsoft’s new Silicon Valley search team would try to make their company’s Bing a window into America’s stream of consciousness, serving up the chatter on Twitter and blog posts, with the latest updates on everything from celebrity gossip to breaking news.
Another interesting factoid many here in Silicon Valley may relate to— the plan didn’t involve a PowerPoint.
The afternoon of the Seattle flight, Suchter stood before his boss in Redmond, Harry Shum, and pulled the dog-eared sheet of paper from his back pocket. This, Suchter told Shum, handing him the marked-up page, is what the team wants to do.
“I know I’ve got to get worried when you’re giving me your plans drawn on a piece of paper and not in PowerPoint,” Shum said. But he approved the effort.
When asked how it felt to beat Google, Suchter responds:
That was fun— retroactively. We didn’t know we were going to catch them. We kind of though we would, but who knew?
More in Microsoft’s Challenge: 90 days to beat Google on mercurynews.com.