Yahoo Branches Out Socially and Globally

Yahoo! has launched Kickstart, a social networking site dedicated to the collegiate and professional world, and also announced FireEagle, a tentatively-named geospatial platform.

Kickstart's social network leans more heavily on the "network" than the "social." Upon initial perusal, one notices Kickstart's almost-identical-to-Facebook signup criteria. But the key difference is how user profiles are presented.

The profiles are intended to be read like a resume rather than a personal ad, to assist in locating internships, jobs, and potential project teammates. This service could prove especially helpful to job seeking college graduates who have been using social networking sites since adolescence.


But the job hunting/social networking site is only an immediate development, as Yahoo's Brickhouse product development unit announced the new FireEagle platform which promises a host of applications in the future. Though it's currently in closed Alpha, the service's final launch date and actual name are still being determined, and open testing is expected to come later this month.

FireEagle is a platform that keeps track of user-supplied location information through either automatic GPS updates, or a third-party application developed on the platform. Yahoo says it has been working with approximately 50 third-party developers who will have applications immediately available upon launch.

A user's location data can be input as specifically as latitudinal/longitudinal coordinates or as vaguely as a zip code, and the applications built upon FireEagle's APIs will be able to use this data to, for example, create photo blogs with date and location-stamped photos plotted to an interactive map.

Yahoo may be struggling to establish itself in the social networking space and recently announced plans to shutter Yahoo! 360, but the company still sees value in the approach for specific niches. Yahoo's Flickr is one of the most popular photo sharing communities online, and the company hopes Kickstart can attract soon-to-be college grads.

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