/// Exclusive: Facebook CTO Bret Taylor Departs (For Start-Ups Unknown)
Facebook’s high-profile CTO Bret Taylor is leaving the Silicon Valley social networking giant later this summer, with future plans to work on an undetermined start-up. The move is likely to be of concern to some over the newly public company’s ability to hold onto entrepreneurial leadership, especially in the wake of continued intense media and investor scrutiny over its rocky IPO last month. That’s especially true since Taylor has been in charge of both platform and mobile efforts at Facebook, a critical arena for it. A pair of Facebook execs under Taylor — Mike Vernal and Cory Ondreijka — will be taking over platform and mobile, respectively. Vernal joined Facebook in 2008 from Microsoft, leading the original Facebook Connect project and also working on platform efforts and the development of Open Graph. Ondrejka arrived at the company in 2010 through the acquisition of Walletin and have previously worked at Linden Labs on Second Life. While well qualified, they have big shoes to fill. Named to CTO two years ago, Taylor has also been a strong public figure at Facebook events, including its recent developers conference. And he was front and center at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this week at the announcement of Facebook integration into its newest iOS. In an interview today, Taylor said that he understands that his departure will be perceived as a disruption, although he noted that Facebook had a deep bench of talented technical staff under the leadership of CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. “I had always been upfront with Mark that I eventually wanted to do another start-up,” he said. “And we felt now is the best time after the IPO and the launch of some recent things for me to do that.” That includes the Apple deal, Facebook Camera and also its App Center , which helps user find mobile and desktop apps their friend like. Facebook is also reportedly working on a major effort to create its own smartphone, a project known as “Buffy.” Taylor, who had previously worked at Google, has a strong start-up background. He left the search giant to found FriendFeed, a once-popular social aggregator. FriendFeed was acquired by Facebook in 2009. Noting that his time at Facebook “has been the among the most fulfilling times of my career,” Taylor said that his departure was only part of life as usual in Silicon Valley. “Cross-pollination among companies is what drives so much of innovation, so I would not project a lot onto this event,” he said. “I am really confident that the mobile and platform leaders at Facebook can deliver what needs to be done.” When asked about the worries he had for the company, Taylor said the challenge of becoming public was top of mind internally. “We are dealing with the cultural change of increasing attention, from going from a private company with a lot of scrutiny to a public company with a lot more scrutiny,” he said. But he maintained that Facebook’s ability to remain nimble as it grew was strong, noting that the tech side continues to work in small teams.
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