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Facebook's Other Founder Goes Off to Found Some More

By JR Raphael TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
Oct 6, 2008 11:29 AM PT

One of Facebook's two cofounders is jumping ship to start his own Internet company. Dustin Moskovitz announced he'll leave the social networking site in about a month. He and colleague Justin Rosenstein, a Facebook engineering manager who previously worked at Google, will launch a new enterprise software business.

Facebook's Other Founder Goes Off to Found Some More

The startup will focus on an open source enterprise productivity suite with a Facebook-like interface.

Moskovitz first formed Facebook with CEO and close friend Mark Zuckerberg while the two were students and roommates at Harvard in 2004. He has been one of its biggest cheerleaders over the years but is the latest in a string of execs to part ways in the past several months.

Startup Speculation

While Moskovitz's departure is drawing rumors of turmoil and changed culture within Facebook, it's important to remember that staffing changes are part of the startup world -- and most conclusions about any deeper implications are, at this point, little more than speculation.

"I think this is a pretty straightforward case where you have founders that have already done pretty well in the rapid ramp phase of a corporate development," Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies, told TechNewsWorld.

Even the most passionate proponents of a company, Kay suggests, are constantly looking for their own growth. Moskovitz may have helped create Facebook, but his cofounder holds the CEO title.

"They've already harvested the benefit[s] ... and they're looking to move on. If you're the CEO, it's interesting. If you're one of the other guys, you can probably do better," Kay commented.

All outward signs do indicate Moskovitz and Zuckerberg are leaving on positive terms. A brief statement released by Zuckerberg suggests the two will remain in close contact.

"Dustin has always had Facebook's best interests at heart and will always be someone I turn to for advice," Zuckerberg said.

Enterprising Future

As for the departing duo's future, the specifics of the company are still under wraps.

"We hope our products will become to your work life what Facebook.com is to your social life," Rosenstein says in a posting on his Facebook profile.

The programs will complement Facebook, Rosenstein indicates, utilizing Facebook Connect as the default authentication option and featuring many of Facebook's conventions within the interface. In fact, the whole concept could have fallen within Facebook's family.

"As our visions for how productivity software could work came into alignment, we thought about building it inside of Facebook," Rosenstein writes. "But at some point, it became clear that doing so wouldn't be good for Facebook or for us. Facebook needs to continue its mission of making the world more open through social software, without distraction, and the new project requires a company built around it from the ground up, with the goals of efficiency and group collaboration embedded deeply into its DNA from day 1."

Vague Venture

Much of the wording is vague, and it's likely no mistake: Moskovitz and Rosenstein say they've yet to actually start their new venture -- so odds are, the details are still being ironed out.

"From that description, it's really hard to know what they're doing," Kay concurred.

Still, the limited information is enough to pique interest. And make no mistake -- this is one startup the tech world will be watching.

"It's certain that that platform is pretty interesting and it's just in its early phases, so somebody who understands the technology really well and sees the implications better than most people is in a good position to cash in on that," Kay pointed out. "It makes perfect sense to me."


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