Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Sorry About Lap Dancers at Hack Day in Taiwan–So What's the Excuse for Last Year's Go-Go Girls?

One word: Shameful.

So, no surprise that Yahoo (YHOO), which is trying mightily to burnish its image worldwide, quickly apologized for the presence of women lap dancers onstage at its Open Hack Day in Taiwan last weekend.

In a post on its Yahoo Developer Network blog tonight, titled “Sorry,” YDN head Chris Yeh wrote:


I wanted to acknowledge the public reaction generated by the images of female dancers at our Taiwan Open Hack Day this past weekend. Our hack events are designed to give developers an opportunity to learn about our APIs and technologies. As many folks have rightly pointed out, the “Hack Girls” aspect of our Taiwan Hack Day is not reflective of that spirit or purpose. And it’s certainly not the message we want to send about our values here at Yahoo!. Hack Days are about making everyone feel welcome, including women coders and technologists.

This incident is regrettable and we apologize to anyone that we have offended. Rest assured, it won’t happen again.

Chris Yeh
Head of YDN
twitter: @ydn
email: cyeh at yahoo-inc dot com

Ironically, in a post listing the winners and details of of the Open Hack event, at which Yahoo invited outside developers to brainstorm, Yahoo’s Erik Eldridge noted earlier today (italics are mine):

“This was our second visit to Taiwan, and we were really looking forward to coming back to see the passionate Taiwanese developers.”

Ouch. Worse still, top Yahoo execs–such as Taiwan CTO Joy Chan, Asia head Rose Tsou and Chief Technologist Sam Pullara, all pictured here with another Yahoo exec, Peter Lin–were in attendance at the event, although it is not clear if any of them attended the lap dance performance. (Yahoo PR is checking on that now for me.)

Like the image above, here are some more pictures of the lap dancers from a Flickr video, posted here, which has since been made private (click on the images to make them, um, larger):

And, rut-roh, here is a link to some more, even shorter-skirted photos on Flickr.

But, perhaps worst of all, this kind of thing is not new for Yahoo’s hack events in Taiwan, at least, where there seems to be some history of this sort of Pussycat-Dolls-meets-geeks tone.

It is not clear why all the thumpa-thumpa music and dancing gals did not engender complaints last year, although I am guessing the nerd lap action sent over the top.

In any case, here are four videos from the event in 2008 of even more gyrating ladies, which you can contrast with a video from Yahoo’s New York event on Oct. 12 of this year.

UPDATE: The videos have been suddenly made private by the person who posted them since I posted them last night, as they now say when you click them. They are not searchable or available any longer on YouTube. But you can see the situation from the images on the videos.

(If you want to know what a lap dance is, by the way, try Yahoo Answers!)

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik