PayPal Gets Its Own Share Of The Yahoo Diaspora, Hires JavaScript Icon Douglas Crockford

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Help! There’s A Patent On My Idea! What Now?

The reorganizing and downsizing at Yahoo — and possibly the executive scandal at the very top of the pyramid — are leading to a wave of talent departures at the company: the latest in that story is that Douglas Crockford, a trailblazing JavaScript guru most recently at Yahoo, has joined eBay’s payment giant PayPal.

The news was announced by Bill Scott, PayPal’s senior director of UI engineering, on his own blog, yesterday. Scott himself had also worked at Yahoo years ago and joined PayPal six months ago from Netflix.

“Welcome aboard Doug! Stoked to be working with you again :-),” Scott wrote yesterday. (It was a note I first saw via HackerNews.)

The news signifies the Yahoo story coming full circle in way: Yahoo’s CEO Scott Thompson, currently the subject of so much scrutiny over his past experience, himself comes from PayPal and has hired other executives away from his former employer in his strategy to rebuild the struggling internet giant. (Sam Schrauger coming on board in April to lead its new consumer commerce unit is one of the latest.)

The departure is also ironic, given how Yahoo’s recovery should rest on the talent that it has working there.

Looking ahead, the hiring raises some questions of what new products and services we might expect next from PayPal. Java (not JavaScript) is used in featurephones, Android and web interfaces.

So far there is little information on what he will be doing. “Part of a lot of changes happening at PayPal. Working hard to get the inside changes out to our customers,” Scott wrote of Crockford’s hire on Twitter earlier.

Crockford, according to Wikipedia (he doesn’t do LinkedIn, didn’t like total strangers using it to reach out to him), was most recently a senior JavaScript architect at Yahoo. He has played a significant role in the development in JavaScript-based technologies. These have included the development of JavaScript and related tools and the JSON data format, as well as Yahoo’s User Interface Library. In the past he also worked at Atari, LucasFilm and Paramount.

Update: I’ve heard back from Bill Scott with some more detail on the appointment.

Crockford is reporting to chief architect Edwin Aoki and his mission, with Scott, will be to extend PayPal’s platform activities and “make PayPal the destination for web developers/JavaScript engineers.”

He continues: “Doug will be working on very similar tasks that he worked on at Yahoo! Specifically looking at ways to make JavaScript more secure, evangelizing JS throughout the organization, continuing his work on the ECMA committee, being the face of JS for PayPal, continuing his speaking/teaching tours around the world, etc. In addition he will be partnering with me on more ways to utilize JS both in the server and on the browser for PayPal, working with me to sharpen the skills of our engineers around the globe on all things Javascript and help me attract the top talent in the industry.” He says that PayPal is “moving rapidly” from C++ to Java as a backend technology, but also says that he cannot comment on specifics about the mobile strategy or other product decisions.

[photos: FranksValli, Flickr; Bill Scott’s blog]