The Paypal Mafia is the most famous example, but Silicon Valley greats tend to leave a host of successful entrepreneurs in their wake. Historically, this has stemmed from employees inside the mothership learning as they helped create a juggernaut. Today, we’re seeing a new trend start, where the “successful alumni” are starting to include people who were never really alumni to start with.
The harbringer of this trend is Facebook. Facebook Alumni have already started leaving to found some companies that are attracting massive attention: Path, Asana, Jumo, and Quora have a combined valuation of well over 100 million dollars, each are less than 24 months old. Dave Morin (CEO at Path) has suggested we call this alumni group “The Facebook Society.” Which may someday become widely-known in silicon valley, as both Xoogler (Google alumni) and The Paypal Mafia (Paypal alumni) have.
But Facebook has created a platform where 2.5 million developers are claiming loads of value, including billion dollar companies like Zynga and LivingSocial, and a dozen additional companies that are growing massively. Take Zoosk for example, which now has more uniques than Match.
The founders of Path, Asana, Jumo and Quora all started at Facebook before the end of 2006, while companies that have built massive businesses atop Facebook Platform, didn’t really get moving until 2008 and are generally in hyper-growth right now.
Therefore, in the next year or two you will start to see another group of “Facebook Alumni” start founding important companies. This group will have learned social design by building on Facebook for Facebook users, but they will have learned those lessons at companies like LivingSocial, Zynga, Causes, fbFund companies, and others.
So when it comes to The Facebook Society, I suggest we include both the people who learned social design at Facebook, and also people who learned social design because of Facebook.
Facebook might be the first place this is happening, but this trend will continue to take place. Today’s juggernaut companies are being built with the help of others. Betaworks and Borthwick have done more than anyone else to show us this. That means that many of the lessons learned building massive businesses, are now also being learned by ecosystem partners.
So as companies like Twitter start to send members of the flock into the wild to start their own nests, you’ll probably also see a few birds that originated from Tweetdeck, Seesmic, Bit.ly and other partners getting mentioned alongside companies like Square in New York Times articles.