Facebook’s Departing CTO A Pied Piper of Talent

As Facebook’s departing CTO Bret Taylor prepares to exit the social networking juggernaut this summer, it’ll be interesting to see if history repeats itself.

Taylor, who is leaving Facebook to launch his own startup, managed to attract a fist full of co-workers from Google, where he’d worked as group product manager, when he launched FriendFeed in 2007.

FriendFeed was sold to Facebook for a reported $50 million in 2009. But during the company’s brief tenure, Taylor and his three co-founders managed to attract other Googlites, as well.

A review of FriendFeed’s “Meet The Team” page notes eight of its 11 members were former Google employees. And of this group, four currently remain at Facebook, according to their online profiles and reports. Sanjeev Singh, is a FriendFeed co-founder and technical whiz, Tudor Bosman, a software engineer, Dan Hsiao, a product manager, and Benjamin Golub, a software engineer.

Stay or Go?

Apparently there’s a good chance some of FriendFeed’s talent and other people at Facebook may follow Taylor.

“Given that Bret came to Facebook when his company (FriendFeed) was bought, and that, therefore, he had a pre-Facebook team that presumably came there with him, I would guess that a lot of those people would follow him, especially given that the acquisition was three years ago and presumably those people have vested most or all of their Facebook stock,” says Jon Holman, who heads up tech executive recruiting firm The Holman Group.

Holman added Taylor would likely attract not only technical staff but also folks in marketing and other areas of Facebook’s business, since he was there for three years and would have become acquainted with others beyond IT.

A Google-like Retention Bonus Not Likely

Although Google tried a retention effort of offering all its employees a $1,000 holiday bonus and a 10 percent raise a couple of years back, that tactic won’t fly at Facebook.

“I would give them restricted stock with a two to four year vesting period (not options, because with a declining stock, options are worthless),” Holman says. “But with people who have made meaningful money from their Facebook stock already, there’s really not much you can do unless you give them more stock than the company is likely to part with.”

More to the point, Holman says: “$1,000 and a 10 percent raise is chicken feed to someone who has made $1 million+ on stock.”

Indeed. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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