Liz Gannes

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Hashtag Inventor Chris Messina Leaves Google to Join Small Startup NeonMob

Chris Messina, known for bringing the hashtag to social media, has left Google after more than three and a half years.

ChrisMessinaAn advocate of open social Web technologies, Messina had first joined Google to lead developer relations for the short-lived Google Buzz product. In recent years, he had worked on user experience design on the Google+ team. His last day was yesterday.

While Messina has kept a somewhat lower profile while working for Google, he’s famous to some for inventing the hashtag in August 2007, a convention that’s now extremely widely used to link conversations across all sorts of media.

Messina said today that he is taking a job at a small, bootstrapped San Francisco startup called NeonMob, which is trying to create a market for digital art. Messina had found the six-person company online, and become fascinated with their efforts to establish the notion of an online art collection. He’ll be head of community and growth, starting next week.

Update: Here’s Messina’s post.


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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