Anil Babu, Director, Product Engineering
Anil Babu, whose team tirelessly works to improve Yahoo Mail and other Oath products, is passionate about the user experience. "I was always interested in engineering. I was building small hobby circuits and stuff like that when I was young," he says. "It was just a natural progression that led me to get an engineering degree. I've always been curious about science and interested in building things."
You joined Yahoo, now an Oath brand, 8 years ago. What brought you to the company?
I used to be an entrepreneur and worked with a couple of startups that were in the network and cloud space. What really excited me about making the transition to Yahoo and Oath was the scale at which the company works. There were not too many companies in India at the time that had that kind of scale. Even today, it is pretty hard to find companies that have the reach Oath has.
When did you know you had made the right move?
One of the things that impressed me in the early days was an initiative we handled called "Project Rewire," where we consolidated 20 or so data centers to about 7, allowing us to build larger data centers, control costs better, and manage scale. The fact that we were able to deliver this in a way that did not affect end users or have notable issues throughout the entire process spoke volumes of the skill sets, quality of talent, and technology we deployed.
Tell us about what you're working on today.
One of the challenges that we are working on is seeing how we can measure reliability and the quality of services being delivered to our end customers. Yahoo Mail is a very large footprint product and has billions of user touch points every day. We are setting a benchmark for ourselves and building technologies and products to measure how good we are. This is not a simple task, considering the scale we have and the different endpoints we have all over the world—we have very dense spaces like the US, to fairly sparsely populated areas like parts of Africa. If you consider the spread of this customer base across geographies, how do we really measure how we are delivering quality? This is one of the big challenges we're looking at.
What makes Oath's products special?
What I really like about the way things get done at Oath is that there is a human connection. Our solutions to problems are not only tech-oriented, there is a very strong human element to the way things get done.
For example, if you look at the recent wins that we've had with the new Yahoo Mail interface, the big feedback that keeps coming up is people find it to be friendly—they're able to connect to it and there's a sense of warmth which isn't necessarily the way they'd describe their experiences with some of our competition.
You often interview candidates for jobs here—what's exciting them about Oath?
We have exciting challenges and we are looking for people to help us face them. It could be migrating services from one platform to another, or building a brand new piece of technology to meet constantly evolving business needs.
The other thing that's exciting people definitely is the culture. It's a combination of working on challenging problems at scale and a work culture that is respectful, encouraging of dialogue, ideas, and different perspectives, all while still getting things done. Also, the regular feedback we get is that the relationships people build with each other are a highlight and I believe that's one of the reasons team members tend to stick around. I think people really respond to the fact that they're respected, their opinions matter, and that everyone is held accountable.
To see more about Oath's tech talent, please visit oath.com/BehindTheScreens.