When I started working at Overture, I was one of many contingency workers. I was hired after taking a typing test at the temp agency and then an editing exercise on site.
Like many companies that started as an idea and an agreement between friends, it was suffering growing pains. I had not applied originally because I noticed that, as with GoTo, it was always hiring and that used to be a warning sign of high turnover.
In GoTo’s case, it was that and growth. There never seemed, for a time, to be enough desks and I recall that some of the desks were just boards put across two file cabinets. There were some feel-good things: the free popcorn, free soda, free designer coffee, beer Fridays, instant pay. What do I mean by instant pay? You estimated when you would work, then turned in those hours a few days before payday and then were paid for those hours instead of waiting until next pay period. If you estimated wrong, you got to do historical edits. There would be, from time to time, more free food. When all the computers were down, we once went to have ice cream in Old Pasadena.
Yet, back to those makeshift desks—having planks on cabinets as a desk is acceptable for college students and newlyweds, but for a multi-million dollar business, it is actually not up to OSHA standards of safety.
I don’t know exactly how or through whom this came to the attention of the management, but eventually we were given real desks. Eventually, the instant pay schedule also went away, although the free popcorn, free soda and free coffee remained.
We were originally working on software designed for general usage, and then built up by our own software engineers to suit the growing business needs. As we became part of Yahoo!, that seemed to be something we also needed to leave behind.
As Yahoo! Search Marketing, it seemed silly to use what was meant for other businesses, and as Yahoo!, we were competing against Google. To be competitive, we needed to have our own unique software, apparently, and that would be Panama.