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.