When I got an unauthorized invite, via a tipster, to Dave Morin's birthday party Tuesday night, I knew I had to crash — if only to find out what he and his friends were thinking. Morin, you see, is a Facebook employee and a prime instigator of Camp Cyprus, the gang of Internet instigators whose shockingly fun video scandalized a shaken Silicon Valley. What's with these Web kids? First they go to Cyprus and destroy the entire economy by filming themselves cavorting at a rich friend's dad's vacation house on the Mediterranean. The horror! But then, what's worse, they return to the United States, unashamed, and continue spending money and enjoying themselves! All this economic activity cannot end well!Can you imagine, kids in their twenties having a good time? This must end! Didn't they get Sequoia's memo? Morin, Facebook's official speaker-to-geeks, turned 28 and rented a downtown art gallery Tuesday night to celebrate. After I tracked down Morin, I gave him a salami I'd picked up at VC firm Alsop Louie's party earlier that night. (It was a heartfelt regifting.) Besides Morin, I identified several other members of Camp Cyprus:
The great hope of the Valley, the startup everyone thought was the next Google, the company whose IPO might restart the stock-market gold rush for everyone, is not well. Why? Look to its founder. Mark Zuckerberg is mismanaging his creation's transition to greatness. In Facebook's own parlance, the company's plight is "complicated." It will take in $300 million to $350 million in revenue this year, thanks in part to a lucrative ad deal with Microsoft. But its $15 billion valuation is premised on a far brighter future — a future that may never materialize. The biggest symptom of Facebook's ailment is the flight of technical talent. In the Valley, success attracts smart people, who attract other smart people. Yes, they're after money, too, but having brilliant coworkers counts for a lot. These great minds bond and form, yes, a sort of social network of their own. When they leave, the network frays, weakening the company's ability to attract new talent.That's why, for days before it was announced, top executives at Facebook desperately hid technical lead Dustin Moskovitz's plans to leave. They dithered as Mark Zuckerberg tried to persuade his cofounder and college roommate to stay, and others, led by COO Sheryl Sandberg, concocted a plan to spin his departure. That spin has now been dutifully printed in the pages of the Wall Street Journal: Facebook's changes are the "type of evolution you see among young growing companies and specifically young growing companies in Silicon Valley," company flack Larry Yu told the paper. Sandberg, who closely directs the company's PR, would have us think that the uproar that has taken place at the social network since her arrival is a healthy evolution. It is not. The internal politicking she has introduced to the company is destructive, and has sent many of the company's best and brightest fleeing. The list of the departed includes data guru Jeff Hammerbacher, product VP Matt Cohler, platform director Ben Ling, and most recently, Justin Rosenstein, a top engineer who's leaving with Moskovitz. Operations VP Jonathan Heiliger may be next. The defections all hurt. But most of the blame lies with Zuckerberg himself. Zuckerberg has always styled himself as the company's "founder," relegating the likes of Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, now Barack Obama's Web campaign director, to "cofounder" status. Never mind that this distinction doesn't exist in English; those who start a company are all equally founders. Zuckerberg clearly considers himself first among equals; he once referred to Moskovitz as "disposable" and a "soldier." The former Harvard roommates patched over those insults, and Zuckerberg said he will rely on Moskovitz's counsel even after his departure. If Moskovitz really thought he could guide Facebook's evolution, he would have stayed at the company, right? Zuckerberg has a history of churning through confidants. Napster cofounder Sean Parker helped establish Facebook in Silicon Valley as its president, only to be disappeared from the company. Former COO Owen Van Natta was in favor, then out. Sandberg had his ear for a while, but may be losing it. Lately, I hear he favors Christopher Cox, the twentysomething recent Stanford grad he recently tapped as the company's director of product. We'll see how long he stays by Zuckerberg's side. This fickleness may be predictable from a 24-year-old. But it's fundamentally bad for the company. Yahoo thrived, in its early days, on the partnership between CEO Tim Koogle and founders Jerry Yang and Dave Filo. Google's triumvirate of its cofounders and CEO Eric Schmidt improved on that management form; the troika lends the company some stability by making sure decisions at the top are never unilateral. Zuckerberg's insistence on the "founder" title suggests that he always planned to rule the company alone. It's a bad plan. His instincts on what kind of website will attract a 100 million users have been spot-on. But he has no business sense. At one point during the Facebook redesign process, he suggested getting rid of advertising altogether, having grown disillusioned with both old-style banner ads and the company's experiments with targeting ads to users' behavior. Will Zuck ever find an equal partner, a sounding board who can help him turn Facebook into the large, ongoing concern he envisions? Dustin Moskovitz may not have been the right person. Nor, it seems, is Sheryl Sandberg. Yet to staunch the bleeding of Facebook's technical talent, Zuckerberg will have to find someone to ground him — someone for whom he has enduring respect, who can moderate his worst impulses. Without it, there will be one word describing what's going to happen to Facebook: "founder."
When he announced his cofounder and college roommate Dustin Moskovitz's departure from Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn't say what he would be up to. But in a separate email leaked to Valleywag, Moskovitz hints at his plan: With fellow engineer Justin Rosenstein, who's also leaving the company, he hopes to create tools like the ones he built at Facebook to run its internal operations, and market them to all sorts of companies. Here's his note to colleagues:
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has just informed Facebook's staff that his long-restive cofounder, Dustin Moskovitz, is leaving the company. Adding to the blow: Moskovitz, left, is taking with him Justin Rosenstein, right, a top engineer who was one of the first employees Facebook poached from Google as it began its tumultuous rise in 2007. The two are starting a new company together. Rosenstein wrote a much-circulated email to friends explaining why he'd left Google, with the now-famous line, "Facebook really is That company.... I have drunk from the kool-aid, and it is delicious." Rosenstein's note is worth rereading — keeping in mind that, if he's leaving, Facebook must no longer be the company Rosenstein wrote so enthusiastically about:
Officially, Facebook is treating the onslaught of viruses piggybacking on the social network's popularity as a very, very serious matter. We're talking Sheryl Sandberg serious. Facebook's press statement reads: "We are investigating every report, removing false content, blocking bogus links and addressing the concerns of our users. These efforts have limited the affected users to a small percentage of those on Facebook.” The unofficial response from cofounder Dustin Moskovitz, posted on CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook profile, is much more fun:
From a tipster: Omnipresent Facebook evangelist Dave Morin shows up at his company's impromptu toga party to celebrate the social networks' 100 millionth user. To the left, CEO Mark Zuckerberg; on the right, togaless Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz. Can you think of a better caption? Leave your suggestion in the comments; the best one will become the post's new headline. Yesterday's winner: "Bathroom line turns ugly at Gnomedex," by WagCurious.
The Facebook Prom was prophetic, signaling farewells, graduation, and the ending of teenage ties. As his colleagues were preparing to dance the night away at the Metreon, CTO Adam D'Angelo, a high school buddy of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was saying his farewells. BoomTown reports that D'Angelo, 23, is leaving the company because "his responsibilities no longer fit well with his skills and interests." Even as the company tries to recreate a high-school environment to keep its employees tightly knit, Zuckerberg's own social network is fraying.
Web 2.0 Expo this week persuaded that not only was Web 2.0 over, but saying it was over was over. To celebrate other Internet clichés, the 250 — that is to say, the 250 people on the Internet who matter to the 250 — decamped for ROFLcon in Massachusetts. Thank goodness, because some of us had actual work to do. Yahoo showed what it could do with its first-quarter earnings — which is to say, not much more than it had been doing before. Now Yahoos are bracing for more layoffs — when they're taking breaks from stealing credit and stabbing colleagues in the back. Facebookers, meanwhile, buzzed about a rumored feud between founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz. Moskovitz denied the tiff, but then displayed enough 'tude to explain why even the contentious Zuckerberg might want to stay away. Who wins the dyspeptic crown? Anyone who made it through this week. (Photo by AP/Kevin Sanders)
We know what Facebook cofounders Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes are up to. Zuck lets COO Sheryl Sandberg run most of the company now while he plays industry visionary; Moskovitz is hiding from Valleywag's fearsome scrutiny; and Hughes is busy spamming your inbox with updates from Obama campaign director David Plouffe — sorry, revolutionizing politics on the Web. But where have unacknowledged cofounders Andrew McCollum and Eduardo Saverin gone? Their Facebook profiles aren't open to the public, but rival social network LinkedIn isn't nearly so skittish. Here are their profiles, with our notes:
Dustin Moskovitz, Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard roommate, recently stopped speaking to him. This has made things awkward at Facebook's Palo Alto campus, as Moskovitz is the last reminder walking around that Zuckerberg was not Facebook's sole founder. The two have resumed talking, but Moskovitz, seeking to dissociate himself from his college chum's creation, had dropped the title of vice president and asked for his bio and photograph to be taken off the company's PR website. He's now taken the title of "technical lead," and is working behind the scenes on Facebook's infrastructure. (Moskovitz was not always so publicity-shy: He gladly spoke about Facebook's wireless initiatives at the CTIA conference last fall, and, in a comment left after this post was published, denies a rift and blames Valleywag for his lowered profile.) Why the reported split, after they've worked together so long?
Facebook lawyers want to bar Aaron Greenspan, a Harvard chum of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, from marketing his new book, Authoritas: One Student's Harvard Admissions and the Founding of the Facebook Era. Their rationale: It uses the company's trademarked name improperly in the title. But their real goal is surely quashing Greenspan's story. In this excerpt from Greenspan's tell-all, the author argues that Zuckerberg stole the name Facebook from Greenspan's creation, HouseSystem.
We were wrong about the identity of the Viking-clad Facebook founder living it up on Friday night. It wasn't Sean Parker, who, we hear, is in Spain. (Sorry about that, Sean!) VentureBeat claims it was Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook's VP of engineering and one of the three official Facebook cofounders. The person in question wore a Viking helmet and a fur skirt. Nothing else. (Ed.'s note: Rawr!) Our tipster must have been pretty hammered, because the description supplied — "tall, has dirty blond hair and glasses, and is not particularly attractive" — fails on two out of four counts. Moskovitz has brown hair and is, according to AllThingsD's Kara Swisher, "such a fox."
Again, our apologies. But we're glad Moskovitz is taking notes from Parker on how to get down. Update: We now hear Moskovitz was in Palo Alto Friday and Saturday. Can anyone identify that fur-skirted man for us? (Image by VentureBeat)
Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz took some time to rehearse his Wednesday morning keynote at the CTIA Wireless conference at San Francisco's Moscone Center. No surprises are likely: Moskovitz's presentation, of which you're getting a sneak preview, will talk up Facebook's "unprecedented growth." Executives and board members are tiresomely fond of citing the stat that the social network's user base continues to grow a steady 3 percent a week. Expect, too, some figures on usage of the Facebook's iPhone-optimized wireless site. We're just curious what percentage of U.S. text-message traffic is carrying "pokes." (Photo by Brandee Barker)
Founders never share power willingly, gracefully, or for very long. That's a lesson that Facebook's Owen Van Natta should have learned at the knee of Jeff Bezos, when Van Natta was an executive at Amazon.com. Instead, though, he's been schooled in it by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who just demoted Van Natta from COO to chief revenue officer and VP of operations, Kara Swisher reports on AllThingsD. Zuckerberg's former No. 2, once trusted to attend the Sun Valley media-mogul conference in his stead, now shares key duties with a host of other executives. Here's a rundown on Van Natta's new rivals.