Kara Swisher

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Exclusive: Yahoo Labs Head Raghavan Departing to Google

Prabhakar Raghavan, the well-respected head of Yahoo’s Labs unit and also recently its head of strategy, is leaving the company to take a job at Google.

The departure comes ahead of what will be very deep cuts in his division, which is in charge of long-term research at the Silicon Valley Internet giant, said sources, and is spread all over the country. More researchers at Yahoo — which is a very well-respected group — are also expected to go too and will be the subject of fervent recruiting interest by companies such as Google and Facebook.

Yahoo confirmed the move after I made an inquiry about it this morning.

In a statement, the company said:

“Yahoo! thanks Prabhakar Raghavan for his dedication and contributions to Yahoo! for the past 7 years. We wish him well in his next endeavor. Ash Munshi, CTO, will assume leadership for Y! Labs.”

It is unclear what Raghavan’s new role at Google is.

But, as head of Yahoo Labs, Raghavan’s research arena has been extensive, encompassing everything from data mining to algorithms to search.

He is also a consulting professor of computer science at Stanford University. According to his bio, Raghavan has “co-authored two textbooks, on randomized algorithms and on information retrieval.”

The Berkeley PhD had been CTO at Verity and had held a number of jobs at IBM Research.

More to the point, he was very well respected within the company, which seems to be curtailing its commitment to research as it attempts to turn itself around under the new leadership of CEO Scott Thompson.

Raghavan had been made head of strategy under former CEO Carol Bartz, who was fired.

He has been at Yahoo seven years.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work