WhatsApp’s version of Snapchat Stories is already pulling in around 15 percent of the messaging app’s 1.2 billion users. Mark Zuckerberg today announced that WhatsApp Status now has 175 million daily users after only launching in mid-February. That’s made more impressive because Status lives in a separate tab of WhatsApp, instead of showing up at the top of the home screen. Read More
Facebook is finally working closely with Apple — on iOS 6 — but it’s also hiring away some of its design talent. The latest is Chris Weeldreyer, who has just left his position as a user interface design manager to become a product design manager at the social network.
What will he be doing? “We’re excited to welcome Chris Weeldreyer to Facebook, where he will be a great addition to our growing design team,” Facebook tells us. But we’ve also learned from a source close to the company that he’ll be focused on its mobile products.
Another interesting clue is the description in his LinkedIn bio, where he describes himself as a ”[p]roduct designer with experience in both hardware and software product development.” That’s more than eight years of experience… right when Facebook is recruiting hard for a renewed smartphone hardware effort.
Here’s some more detail about that, from Nick Bilton at The New York Times in late May:
One engineer who formerly worked at Apple and worked on the iPhone said he had met with Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, who then peppered him with questions about the inner workings of smartphones. It did not sound like idle intellectual curiosity, the engineer said; Mr. Zuckerberg asked about intricate details, including the types of chips used, he said. Another former Apple hardware engineer was recruited by a Facebook executive and was told about the company’s hardware explorations.
Facebook is going to great lengths to keep the phone project a secret, specifically not posting job listings on the company’s job Web site, but instead going door-to-door to find the right talent for the project.
There’s still an open position for a product design manager, as Inside Facebook notes. But rather, as it wrote when it broke the story yesterday, the hiring seems to be separate. Here are a few reasons why. Facebook is quick to update the hiring page (that is, I spent years watching it closely when I was at Inside Facebook, and it was always fast in my experience). The page is still live so it may not be about him, particularly since he made his move official on LinkedIn. Also, the current position doesn’t say anything specific about mobile.
Whether or not Weeldreyer is part of some smartphone skunkworks project, he’s also not the first Apple design-side person to go over to Facebook recently. There are only 89 former Apple folks at Facebook, according to available LinkedIn data, but another one of them is Sharon Hwang, who went from being a senior art director to a product designer in March.
The overall sense is that Facebook is trying hard to polish the rough edges of its products, and continues to be attractive enough as a workplace that it can get world-class talent.
Spark Capital isn’t the only existing investor buying Foursquare employee stock in an up round, I’ve learned. Legendary investor SV Angel is, too. That’s an unusual move considering that the firm typically focuses on early-stage deals. Why?
Yes, there’s the promise of Foursquare becoming the way that you find interesting people and locations around you, the source of data for deals, discovery and yield management. But there’s a more human reason why these investors are going out of their way to get more stock at a higher price, too. And its name is Dennis Crowley, chief executive officer.
When Foursquare was younger, he would make investors wince by talking about how much he loved working with a small team. One needs a big team, after all, to become the multi-billion dollar business that gets returns on big investments.
That has changed. Foursquare has over 100 employees now, and is successfully recruiting top engineers from industry leaders like Google, and from top technical universities like Stanford, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon. You can get a sense for this from LinkedIn data, which shows technical hires surging in recent months.
Investors love having a founder CEO, the person with the vision, the moral authority and the drive to make it all happen. SV Angel, who didn’t comment for this story, publicly says that this is what they always look for.
But Crowley’s evolution as a chief executive, and the growth of the company overall, could also be related to the departure of Naveen Selvadurai. Om got the scoop today and Foursquare has since confirmed the news with us. As a company goes from startup to billions, new executives come in, the problems change… and sometimes cofounders come to feel that they’ve done all that they can. That’s what Naveen says today in his blog post on the move:
….i’ve worn a ton of hats: from product to engineering, from funding rounds to roadshows, from recruiting to evangelizing. but, after three years, i feel i’ve done all i can do and i’m moving on. dennis and i have been discussing timing for a while, and we decided that now, on this anniversary, it feels right to begin the transition. so this will be my last month working at foursquare. over the course of the next few weeks, i’m going to be taking a step back as my final projects near their release.
He’ll continue on as a board member and adviser, but otherwise move on to new projects. The transition feels reminiscent of the evolution of another huge new company. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg saw a number of cofounders and early employees leave left years ago, but he steadily grew into the CEO role and today is now leading the company towards a blockbuster IPO.
A few other notes on the new investment. I’m hearing that the amount Spark put in was large, but under $50 million, that the SV Angel funding is a small portion of it all, and that other investors may be buying up stock, too.
We’re happy to announce that, as of this week, the Strobe team is joining Facebook!
Strobe was founded on the belief that HTML5 can transform the way average people use their mobile phones through apps that are available everywhere, anytime, on any device. Now we’re joining the talented people at Facebook to help develop innovative mobile experiences for their users around the world.
For now, the Strobe service will continue to be available to existing users in its existing beta form. We will provide updates by email if and when this changes. SproutCore, meanwhile, will continue as an independent project.
Strobe has been a fantastic adventure. Thank you to everyone who has supported us. We look forward to working with you again in our future roles.
— The Strobe Team
Strobe’s platform, which debuted back in September, helps developers build HTML5-based Web applications for desktops, smartphones and tablets, and lets them centrally manage them using a single interface. Sarah took a close look at Strobe when the service made its formal debut.
The company had raised $2.5 million from O’Reilly AlphaTech and Hummer Winblad.
Update: as expected, this is mostly a talent acquisition. A Facebook spokesperson says:
We’re excited to confirm that we’ve completed a talent acquisition for Strobe Corp., a mobile app development startup based in San Francisco. Founder and CEO Charles Jolley will join our mobile engineering team, and we’re looking forward to the major impact the Strobe team will undoubtedly make at Facebook.
Strobe Inc. provides software and cloud services for touch-centric applications on the web. Based on a blend of technologies, like native, HTML5 and SproutCore, Strobe apps offer a high-quality native-style user experience across devices.
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 500 million users.
Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskowitz and Chris Hughes to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks.
The original idea for the term…
22-year-old British entrepreneur Rich Martell – who mirrored Mark Zuckerberg’s experience in almost being sacked from his university for developing a flirting social network – is pivoting his company towards location-based offers. In fact, it’s reminiscent of the Amen app launched at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, though more overtly geared towards monetization than Amen’s more Twitter-like experience.
Martell developed the FitFinder mobile social network for students, renamed Floxx, but has clearly realised that this is a narrow niche and is now working on Spottd, which received approval by Apple over the weekend and is now live on the App Store.