Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Finding the Scale of the Rest of the World Lacking, Early Designer Rejoins Facebook

Aaron Sittig put in five years on the Facebook team, joining in the very early days of the company and designing many of the service’s icons as well as conceptualizing key experiences like tagging friends in photos. Last year, he was part of a stream of longtime Facebook folks who left the company to see what the world outside the walled garden had to offer.

But Sittig is now back at the mother ship, having rejoined in January with the title “product architect,” as Kim-Mai Cutler at Inside Facebook reported Friday.

This comes at a time when Facebook has more than 2,000 employees, plans to move to a corporate campus within the next year and says an IPO is likely in 2012. It’s a lot different from when Sittig first joined in 2005.

Sittig had been away from the company only six months before accepting an offer to return. He told NetworkEffect that he felt the outside world lacked the “scale and ambition” of Facebook. Plus, he was lured by some of Facebook’s recent hires: Sam Lessin and Justin Shaffer, brought in through the acquisitions of their companies and Hot Potato, respectively (both of which occurred while Sittig was away).

Here’s Sittig’s explanation:

I left Facebook last June because I’d been there for five years and wanted to see what else I could apply myself to. I didn’t expect at the time that I’d head back.

I spent my time off advising companies and looking for new ideas. But for each idea I wanted to build myself, I kept realizing that Facebook was the only place with the scale and ambition where I could build my ideas successfully.

So that, combined with the steady influx of talented people like Sam Lessin and Justin Shaffer, convinced me to say yes when I was approached with an offer to rejoin.

Prior to Facebook, Sittig worked at Napster, after it bought the Mac client Macster that he had helped develop. He studied philosophy at UC Berkeley. Sittig has made angel investments in companies such as Hearsay, which makes corporate social media management tools.

Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my ethics statement.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald