Yahoo to expand Israel-based R&D centers under new local leadership

Company runs sites in Tel Aviv and Haifa with about 150 programmers, engineers and researchers

Ricky Ben-David is The Times of Israel’s Tech Israel editor and reporter.

Neetai Eshel, managing director of Yahoo's R&D centers in Israel. (Gil Merav)
Neetai Eshel, managing director of Yahoo's R&D centers in Israel. (Gil Merav)

Yahoo is set to expand its Israel-based R&D centers under new leadership that will focus on growing its local sales operations, the company said on Monday.

Yahoo operates R&D centers in Tel Aviv and Haifa with about 150 programmers, engineers, and researchers who work on developing the brand. The Tel Aviv site focuses on developments in advertising technologies, video tech, and data products, while the Haifa team serves as a research center.

To drive the expansion, Yahoo appointed Neetai Eshel, a long-time employee, as managing director of both centers. Eshel has been with Yahoo for eight years and established a native advertising system for mobile and search engine marketing and advertising called Gemini (similar to Google Adwords) in 2013, the company said.

Gemini handles ads for both Yahoo and AOL, both of which were owned by Verizon and renamed Verizon Media. American investment firm Apollo Global Management acquired Verizon Media in 2021 and renamed it Yahoo.

Gemini began as a local initiative at the Tel Aviv R&D center and has become one of the company’s significant growth engines, Yahoo said.

Yahoo said it is now looking to grow its sales relationships with Israeli advertisers.

The company is one of the oldest brands of the internet age, first founded in 1995 as a web portal and site directory. Yahoo grew through its search engine and email offerings and partnerships with sports, finance, weather, travel, and entertainment brands.

Over the years, Yahoo bought over 100 companies including a number of Israeli outfits: advertising tech firm Dapper in 2010, video streaming platform RayV in 2014, and ad security startup ClarityRay also in 2014.

Yahoo also owns tech magazines TechCrunch and Engadget, two leading tech and gadgets publications.

Once one of the most promising companies in Silicon Valley, Yahoo has had a rocky history marked by tumultuous periods.

In the early 2010s, Yahoo was the victim of a massive security breach that compromised more than 1 billion user accounts.

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