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Sucking the life out of Yahoo, Microsoft has hired away 15 of its researchers to open an R&D lab in New York City. Along with Duncan Watts, the well-known social network researcher, “That includes algorithmic economist David Pennock — who will oversee day-to-day lab operations — and machine-learning expert John Langford,” AllThingsD reports. That Yahoo’s leading minds are exiting isn’t a surprise considering the company’s flagging fortunes. Just last month, Yahoo laid off about 2,000 employees across the board, including its research staff, CNet recalls.