The accidental Facebook success story?

When I first met Hadi Partovi and his team he was on the floor of his Seattle startup putting together an air conditioner. We joked about what it takes to make a successful startup (I told him I was thinking of leaving Microsoft) and that being the head of a startup means getting your hands dirty doing weird jobs like setting up airconditioners so your team can keep working. That was just about a year ago. I already knew that Hadi was brilliant. Why? The folks who worked for him at Microsoft (Steve Rider and Sanaz Ahari) told me so. He was the one who put together the skunkworks start.com team which later became live.com. Unfortunately Microsoft couldn’t keep Hadi happy, so he left and started iLike with his brother, Ali. A bunch of smart engineers from Microsoft and other places came along too (Rider left to join the team there).

In that first meeting, and a video interview with Ali since then I don’t remember them ever talking about Facebook. I don’t know if it wasn’t on their radar screen, or what, but I don’t think that a year ago they ever expected that Facebook would turn into the platform it has and that they would be the top player on top of that platform. I’d love to know the story of how they decided to change their business into a Facebook-focused one.

It doesn’t really matter why or how, though, because about a year later, they are the hottest startup around and are signing up 300,000 new people a day. That’s just absolutely incredible. I don’t know of a faster growing startup in terms of signing people up.

If you read my link blog you’ve already seen these blogs and a few others talking about Facebook’s success, but definitely don’t miss the one by Marc Andreessen where he digs into the pros and cons of the Facebook platform.

Comments

  1. I was told an adage by a CEO before my first startup:

    “Only two people pick up the litter in the hallways of a company–the janitor, and the CEO”

    After a couple of startups I know that to be true.

  2. I was told an adage by a CEO before my first startup:

    “Only two people pick up the litter in the hallways of a company–the janitor, and the CEO”

    After a couple of startups I know that to be true.

  3. It’s just another SN site. Wait until you see what I’ve done. What’s on my localhost. It won’t be too long now. I’ve seen sites like ilike come and go for 3 years now. It’s no big deal. It’s like finding a penny on the ground.

  4. It’s just another SN site. Wait until you see what I’ve done. What’s on my localhost. It won’t be too long now. I’ve seen sites like ilike come and go for 3 years now. It’s no big deal. It’s like finding a penny on the ground.

  5. Hi Robert-
    We heard about the iLike story from Hadi, too, when he was unpacking servers and getting them running as fast as he could just to keep up with the demand from Facebook. I don’t think anyone expected such an explosion from Facebook, iLike didn’t even have a chance (or the need, it turns out)to promote themselves as a cool option to add to your profile. Of course, in hindsight…
    I think we’ll see the Facebook paradigm start to spread to other social networks – maybe it’s another baby step toward semantic web. BTW iLike is presenting at the Under The Radar conference on June 28th in Mountain View, can’t wait to see what they’ll have to say about their massive scaling adventure and where they see themselves going now.

  6. Hi Robert-
    We heard about the iLike story from Hadi, too, when he was unpacking servers and getting them running as fast as he could just to keep up with the demand from Facebook. I don’t think anyone expected such an explosion from Facebook, iLike didn’t even have a chance (or the need, it turns out)to promote themselves as a cool option to add to your profile. Of course, in hindsight…
    I think we’ll see the Facebook paradigm start to spread to other social networks – maybe it’s another baby step toward semantic web. BTW iLike is presenting at the Under The Radar conference on June 28th in Mountain View, can’t wait to see what they’ll have to say about their massive scaling adventure and where they see themselves going now.

  7. Sounds inspiring.

    This is the first time I heard of ILike, and when I went there, i fell in love almost immediately. No wonder it has 6 million users already.

    I keep thinking, isnt it amazing how technology is affecting social interactions.

  8. Sounds inspiring.

    This is the first time I heard of ILike, and when I went there, i fell in love almost immediately. No wonder it has 6 million users already.

    I keep thinking, isnt it amazing how technology is affecting social interactions.

  9. Can’t get on at Google, so trying for Facebook, eh?

    Dismissive less than 2 weeks ago, now all the rage, and all you been taking about. Record in quick turnarounds. ;)

    As far as social networking goes, Facebook is the least worst of the lot, has that much going for it at least (for now that is). I still detest the entire lot. But they should pitch private Facebooks, like at companies or even sep. Dept’s, so Facebook becomes far more local, more Craigslistsy; your own Personal Pan Facebooky Jesus. Facebook would be a good fit for you, light on tech, heavy on tech celebrity smooze networking. I’d say take it.

    iLike, oh brother, misleading viral adoptional rates, Widget wheeeee. How so eyeballs 1999, Ticketmastering their way to certain doom.

  10. Can’t get on at Google, so trying for Facebook, eh?

    Dismissive less than 2 weeks ago, now all the rage, and all you been taking about. Record in quick turnarounds. ;)

    As far as social networking goes, Facebook is the least worst of the lot, has that much going for it at least (for now that is). I still detest the entire lot. But they should pitch private Facebooks, like at companies or even sep. Dept’s, so Facebook becomes far more local, more Craigslistsy; your own Personal Pan Facebooky Jesus. Facebook would be a good fit for you, light on tech, heavy on tech celebrity smooze networking. I’d say take it.

    iLike, oh brother, misleading viral adoptional rates, Widget wheeeee. How so eyeballs 1999, Ticketmastering their way to certain doom.

  11. “I’d love to know the story of how they decided to change their business into a Facebook-focused one.”

    Um, I really doubt that’s how it happened. They made a widget and it was wildly successful. I don’t think they wildly changed their business.

  12. “I’d love to know the story of how they decided to change their business into a Facebook-focused one.”

    Um, I really doubt that’s how it happened. They made a widget and it was wildly successful. I don’t think they wildly changed their business.

  13. I don’t think they wildly changed their business.

    Hahahah, you forgot that mass email they sent out (that the press got aholda), drumming up for every spare server in Silicon Valley. They have had to increase server capacity like mega, success can kill. Web 2.0 apps aren’t made to scale, so they are going to chew through so much infrastructual expensess, that they will need to get more funding, before they even start to make a dime. Facebook is really going to be a big company or already profitable venture, as the costs can kill, before you even see a dime. Managed growth, don’t forget the Planet Hollywood lessons.

  14. I don’t think they wildly changed their business.

    Hahahah, you forgot that mass email they sent out (that the press got aholda), drumming up for every spare server in Silicon Valley. They have had to increase server capacity like mega, success can kill. Web 2.0 apps aren’t made to scale, so they are going to chew through so much infrastructual expensess, that they will need to get more funding, before they even start to make a dime. Facebook is really going to be a big company or already profitable venture, as the costs can kill, before you even see a dime. Managed growth, don’t forget the Planet Hollywood lessons.

  15. I like this post, because it reminds me my MBA times with cases.

    Second, I share most of the feelings expressed here, inspiring.

    Third, about the wear jobs we make when we are in a start up mode is something we have to remember every time we get one step up in the lather. This kind of jobs are very uncomfortable especially if we have worked in a big corp and you decided to jump out.

    Finally, I am working in a project and how I wish my gets illuminated to be like facebook!!

    Mario Ruiz
    http://www.oursheet.com

  16. I like this post, because it reminds me my MBA times with cases.

    Second, I share most of the feelings expressed here, inspiring.

    Third, about the wear jobs we make when we are in a start up mode is something we have to remember every time we get one step up in the lather. This kind of jobs are very uncomfortable especially if we have worked in a big corp and you decided to jump out.

    Finally, I am working in a project and how I wish my gets illuminated to be like facebook!!

    Mario Ruiz
    http://www.oursheet.com

  17. Also, in case anybody can do math, this website according to Alexa, opened a full year ago in July of 2006. 300k signups a day with only 6 million profiles means that they would have went live 20 days ago.
    20 * 300,000
    Unless you do math like Steve Ballmer, then it can mean anything!

    Cloning Friendster is so 5 years ago. Just wait until you see the next wave.

  18. Also, in case anybody can do math, this website according to Alexa, opened a full year ago in July of 2006. 300k signups a day with only 6 million profiles means that they would have went live 20 days ago.
    20 * 300,000
    Unless you do math like Steve Ballmer, then it can mean anything!

    Cloning Friendster is so 5 years ago. Just wait until you see the next wave.

  19. Also, this is REALLY weird.
    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?url=www.ilike.com
    Only 1 out of 10 visits is from the US. This looks like bot traffic to me.
    Compare to MySpace
    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?url=www.myspace.com
    Which actually has a multilingual interface and has 50% USA traffic
    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?url=www.tagworld.com
    Or tagworld
    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?url=www.vidilife.com
    or vidilife
    The traffic that’s really worth a lot of money as far as advertising is American.

    Do a little digging on this site.

  20. Also, this is REALLY weird.
    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?url=www.ilike.com
    Only 1 out of 10 visits is from the US. This looks like bot traffic to me.
    Compare to MySpace
    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?url=www.myspace.com
    Which actually has a multilingual interface and has 50% USA traffic
    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?url=www.tagworld.com
    Or tagworld
    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?url=www.vidilife.com
    or vidilife
    The traffic that’s really worth a lot of money as far as advertising is American.

    Do a little digging on this site.

  21. Marc Andreessen is on Fire!

    Whatever you think about what the browser boy wonder has done since Netscape, you have to appreciate the communication, collaboration, and participation that he has been doing since the beginning of this month at blog.pmarca.com!
    Anyone that has had th…