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Yahoo Kickstarts a social service aimed at college grads

Yahoo's new Kickstart social network is aimed at helping students and recent get jobs--and at helping companies recruit young job seekers.

Yahoo is set to launch Kickstart on Monday, a social network aimed at college students, alumni, and recruiters.

Yahoo already is experimenting with a general-purpose social network, Mash. But whereas Mash will be for socializing, Kickstart will be for career networking, says Scott Gatz, senior director of Yahoo's Advanced Products division.

"It's a professional network with a purpose--to help college students and recent graduates build a professional network," he says.

The initial "early preview" is focused on professionals and alumni, with a push for students to come next year.

Gatz says the site won't really compete with Facebook because Kickstart is focused on career advancement, not on fun.

What about LinkedIn, which caters to the professional crowd? "LinkedIn doesn't cross the minds of college students," Gatz says.


Also on Monday, Yahoo's Brickhouse technology incubator will be launching a development platform, code-named FireEagle, that will eventually enable people to provide their location in one place and have that information distributed across multiple applications, such as social networks, microblogs and instant-messaging services. The data dissemination also can be automated with a GPS-enabled phone.

"The platform geocodes the data and makes it machine-readable so other applications can plug into it, publish to it, or read from it," says Salim Ismail, head of Brickhouse.

Yahoo isn't a start-up anymore; it hasn't been for years. But it has retained the start-up mentality in its Brickhouse and Advanced Products divisions, where ideas can go from scrawls on a napkin to product in a short amount of time.

"We can throw things out to the marketplace and see if they work," Gatz says. "We have created an environment where we build products quickly, get them to market quickly, and iterate, iterate, iterate, and then bring them into the core business unit."