March 24, 2023

Bits Blog: First Major Talent Exit After Facebook I.P.O.

From left, Paul Buchheit, Bret Taylor and Jim Norris, in 2007. They created FriendFeed, a service they sold to Facebook in 2009.Noah Berger for The New York TimesBret Taylor created FriendFeed, a service he sold to Facebook in 2009.

Bret Taylor, Facebook’s chief technology officer, announced Friday afternoon he was leaving the company to start his own. It was the first major exit of a Facebook executive since its public offering nearly a month ago and signals a recurrent challenge in Silicon Valley: How to retain talent after the company goes public and employee shareholders make their millions.

Mr. Taylor has been through the cycle once before. He left Google after that company went public in 2004 and created his own social networking start-up while in residence at the Benchmark venture capital firm. He went to Facebook when it acquired his start-up, FriendFeed, in 2009.

Mr. Taylor has supervised some of Facebook’s newest and most important products, including the creation of the Open Graph that application developers can use, along with the most recent rollout of the App Center and its integration with the Apple App Store.

“I’m sad to be leaving, but I’m excited to be starting a company with my friend Kevin Gibbs,” he posted on his Facebook page Friday afternoon. He described Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, as a “mentor.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, was one of hundreds who clicked the “like” button on his post, followed by a statement to reporters, in which he described Mr. Taylor as a “friend and teammate.” He went on to say: “I’m grateful for all he has done for Facebook and I’m proud of what he and his teams have built. I’m also proud that we have a culture where great entrepreneurs like Bret join us and have such a big impact.”

Neither he nor Mr. Gibbs, who works at Google, said anything about what they would work on together. The two men would have overlapped at Stanford University, where they both studied computer science, and at Google. Mr. Gibbs was instrumental in developing something called the App Engine, which allowed application developers to use Google infrastructure, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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