Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Facebook Engineering Director Aditya Agarwal Departs

Facebook director of engineering and very early employee Aditya Agarwal is leaving the company after more than five years, he announced last night.

In a note published on his Facebook profile, Agarwal said:

I am extremely inspired by the changes that Facebook has affected throughout the Internet ecosystem and how it has changed user expectations about great products. Our Platform has created a unique set of opportunities for building products on the foundations of the social graph. It will be the cornerstone of many future disruptions, some of which I hope to accelerate.

Agarwal’s projects have included Facebook newsfeed, search, ads, user commerce and services infrastructure. He said his last day would be Dec. 3.

Facebook spokesperson Larry Yu said via email, “After nearly five-and-a-half years, Aditya Agarwal has decided to leave the company. Aditya has been a key contributor since Facebook’s early days and while he’ll be greatly missed, we wish him all the best as he considers his next adventure.”

Agarwal did not specify what his next project will be. His wife, Ruchi Sanghvi, was Facebook’s first female engineer and left the company in August. (The two joined Facebook as a couple in mid-2005 after graduating from Carnegie Mellon.)

Agarwal is not Facebook’s only director of engineering; others with that title include Andrew “Boz” Bosworth and Robert Johnson.

Facebook has given employees the option to cash out some of their shares through secondary markets, and plus, early members of the team have at this point just been there a long time. Meanwhile Facebook has put new people, both hires and acqhires, in charge. As I wrote in a feature for GigaOM a few months ago:

Staying at a tech startup for more than four years–the default stock option vesting schedule–is a rare thing, but it seems notable that at 6-year-old Facebook, many early and influential employees have moved on, several of them recently. Facebook is an unusual employer, having been incredibly successful while steering clear of the public markets longer than expected. Employees who leave are often emboldened by their work on such an influential and widely used product, and want to start their own companies. Others are burned out. Still others feel stifled by the company’s management structure.

Although it’s obviously hard to see your comrades leave, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had an interesting and somewhat counterintuitive explanation for the stream of people leaving the company in an interview he gave about a year ago:

“We’re not pretending we’re building a company that hackers are going to want to work at forever,” Zuckerberg said, pointing to former employees like Steve Chen (who stayed at Facebook for only a short time before starting YouTube). Zuckerberg added his hope was to build a place where people could learn to build high-impact products–”a great hacker institution in the long term.”

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik