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Here are 15 people who have declined an opportunity with the social networking giant.
Facebook’s rise to dominance has involved many offers to and from people in the tech industry. Company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg even once famously rejected a $1 billion buyout offer from Yahoo. Here are 15 people who have declined an opportunity with the social networking giant. While some are still kicking themselves, others have made out pretty well on their own.
Dalton Caldwell, founder of App.net
In a now-famous open letter to Mark Zuckerberg posted to his blog this August, Caldwell publicized the “intimidation-based negotiation tactics” that he claims Facebook executives exhibited after he turned down their offer for an acquisition-and-job offer. Caldwell says “the execs in the room made clear that the success of my product would be an impediment” to the financial success of a competing Facebook feature.
Kevin Systrom, Instagram co-founder and CEO
Systrom and Zuckerberg have a long history dating back to Facebook’s first days in Palo Alto. In a 2011 interview with Fast Company, Systrom recalls Zuckerberg approaching him about a cloud-based photo storage app he developed as a Stanford undergrad, but declined an offer to drop out of school and work for them. Systrom would go on to create Instagram and end up joining the Facebook ranks by way of the $1 billion acquisition earlier this year.
Joe Green, Harvard alum, co-creator of Facemash
Zuckerberg’s Harvard roommate and co-conspirator on the controversial Facemash web app on which users ranked female Harvard students based on appearance, Green told ABC News earlier this year that he was discouraged from joining Zuckerberg in Palo Alto by his father, who, as a professor himself, was not happy with the trouble the two had already gotten into. Green ended up OK; he currently runs Causes, a company that leverages Facebook to share information on charities.
Joe Jackson, student at Harvard Business School
Another classmate of Zuckerberg, Jackson turned down an offer to move to Palo Alto because, as he told Bloomberg Businessweek, he was concerned at the time about “programming for a startup that may not go anywhere.” He instead took an internship at JPMorgan Chase, and now, as a Harvard Business student, says he “completely missed the boat.”
Chris Hughes, Facebook co-founder
Unlike Jackson and Green, Hughes did make the move from Cambridge to Palo Alto, but in 2007 left Facebook for a position with Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Now 28 years old, Hughes is worth an estimated $850 million and this year bought The New Republic magazine – the company, not just the latest issue.
Ali Fedotowsky, Bachelorette
Another former Facebook employee, Fedotowsky used her vacation time with the company to become a contestant on ABC’s reality show The Bachelor in 2009, but had to leave the show early when her paid time off ran out. ABC liked her enough to give her the starring role on The Bachelorette, for which she left Facebook in March 2010. The show and the subsequent engagement both ended, but Fedotowsky came away with a job hosting NBC New York’s 1st Look.
Unnamed Google Engineer
A 2010 TechCrunch report tells of Google’s continued efforts to try to keep its engineers from leaving for Facebook, including one who still fled despite Google’s offer of $500,000 in restricted stock and a 15% raise. When Google heard that Facebook was wooing another staff engineer, it raised the offer to $3.5 million in restricted stock. The engineer reportedly stayed with Google.
Tracy Chou, software engineer at Pinterest
In response to a question posted to Quora asking how software engineer Tracy Chou was recruited to work for Quora (confusing, I know), Chou explains how Quora’s founders lured her away from Facebook, where she interned in 2010. After “sitting on a Facebook offer for almost three months,” Chou met with Quora co-founder Adam D’Angelo (formerly CTO of Facebook) for an in-person meeting that won her over. Her Quora profile now lists her as a software engineer for Pinterest.
Although the story is unverified, O’Keefe provided his personal experience in response to a separate Quora question about turning down Facebook job offers. The creator of several online communities, such as PhotoshopForums.com and phpBBHacks.com, O’Keefe claims he declined a Facebook recruiter’s invitation to apply for a position as an online community manager for Facebook’s Developer Platform. Joining the company, he says, would go against his entrepreneurial spirit.
Michael Greeley, general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners
Greeley’s not alone in this mistake, but he remembers 2004, when his Boston-based venture capital firm declined to invest money in what was still an unclear idea of a Harvard drop out. Greeley told Bloomberg in 2011 that the decision, which was shared by several area VCs, actually set the Boston-area investing community back by a few years.
Scott Tobin, partner at Battery Ventures
Similarly, Tobin was present at a 2004 meeting with Zuckerberg that didn’t lead anywhere. In an interview with Bloomberg this March, Tobin continued to kick himself. “In retrospect, had we made that investment, yeah, it would have been great. I would have been on the cover of Forbes magazine with Oprah,” he told Bloomberg. “It’s the biggest fish that ever got away.”
Mitch Eichen, CEO of Risk 3.0 Asset Management
In this Fox Business video discussing Facebook’s IPO, Eichen discusses his early opportunity to buy shares in the company before it went public. Eichen says he didn’t want to buy in to a private partnership, and presciently warned investors against “chasing” Facebook shares on the first day of its IPO.
In what Facebook may now consider a dodged bullet, Michael Carter, CEO of HTML5 game development platform Game Closure, told TechCrunch in February that it remained independent despite “significant inbound acquisition interest” from Facebook, Zynga, and others. Roughly seven months later, Zuckerberg lamented focusing too heavily on HTML5, calling it the company’s biggest mistake.
Facebook has reportedly attempted to buy Twitter on several occasions. The first was a $500 million offer in 2008, just over two years after it was launched. Then, in 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that executives from Facebook and Google had separately held “low-level talks” about a potential acquisition. By then, Twitter’s estimated value had risen to $10 billion, the Journal reported.
Dennis Crowley, Foursquare
Though he never identified Facebook specifically, Crowley’s response to questions at the 2010 Le Web 10 conference led many to speculate that Facebook was the company whose $140 million offer Crowley had turned down. At the time, Facebook and Yahoo were considered the most likely suitors, and Facebook was the topic at hand during Crowley’s on-stage discussion.