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How Noah Kagan Got Fired From Facebook and Lost $100 Million 236

Posted by timothy
from the but-who's-counting dept.
First time accepted submitter abhi2012 writes "Noah Kagan, a former Facebook product manager, has written a brutally honest article about how and why he got fired from Facebook in 2006 and what he learned from it. The experience must be particularly painful, given that it eventually cost Kagan a $100 million fortune."
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How Noah Kagan Got Fired From Facebook and Lost $100 Million

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  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Sunday September 30, 2012 @10:54PM (#41510195)

    What exactly does Facebook _do_ ?

  • by busyqth (2566075) on Sunday September 30, 2012 @10:59PM (#41510209)

    Do you hate your job? Are you only still there because you're waiting to vest? I feel your pain, brother. The only thing that kept me from leaving Netscape in 1997 and walking away from a dumptruck full of cash in frustration was this script. I ran this every morning for at least a year: it prints out the following motivational message:

    Today's NSCP price is $__._; your total unsold shares are worth $____. You are __._% vested, for a total of ____ vested unsold shares ($____). But if you quit today, you will walk away from $____.
    Hang in there, little trooper! Only _ years __ months __ days to go!


    It's amazing how this script can put it all back into perspective and keep you from going postal and strangling someone. Fill in your numbers, and let it remind you not to do something you'll regret later.

    http://www.jwz.org/hacks/ [jwz.org]

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Sunday September 30, 2012 @11:12PM (#41510293)
    to me, that would be the more interesting article now that we know where he ended up.
  • by epyT-R (613989) on Sunday September 30, 2012 @11:36PM (#41510457)

    typical marketer perspective. things that cater to the masses are the most watered down boring cliche products possible. No one bothers with the niche anymore and that's too bad. That's where the interesting things hide.

  • Not a healthy topic. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Sunday September 30, 2012 @11:40PM (#41510467) Homepage Journal

    It's a familiar story. I worked with a guy who interviewed at a certain small software company back in 1982, and refused their offer because he thought their CEO was an insufferable dork. And of course that dork's name was Bill Gates.

    Another bunch I worked with on a skunkworks startup had been with a certain other Big Name back when (this one I have to keep to myself) and just barely missed out at cashing in when they got bought out. The whole point of the startup they had brought me in on was to try and recreate that magic moment they had missed the first time. And of course the startup's product was hopeless, since all it's motivations were the wrong ones.

    Which kind of demonstrates the stupidity of the whole approach. I don't mean the obsession with might-have-beens (though that's pretty unhealthy). I mean the obsession with getting rich by being part of The Next Big Thing. Unless you're a fucking genius (and trust me, you're probably not), you're not going to invent something really brilliant, and that's the only sure way of cashing in. Otherwise, you're just rolling the dice. OK, you roll the dice every time you start a business. But to have any hope of succeeding, you have to be focused on the the basics of making your company work, not crapshoot aspects, which are simply beyond your control.

    I'm not saying that nobody ever lucks out and gets big bucks. But it's just not something you can plan. If you want to gamble, buy a lottery ticket: the odds in your favor are just as good, and it'll screw up your career a lot less.

  • by buddyglass (925859) on Sunday September 30, 2012 @11:52PM (#41510513)
    Sure. And yet they're paying me (in free services I use to interact with my friends and acquaintances) in order to monetize me. If that payment ceases to motivate me to put myself in a position to be monetized then they lose.
  • Re:why do we care? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Monday October 01, 2012 @12:50AM (#41510699) Journal
    No, I was at the occupy rally last year. Protesting is fun! It was a party!
  • Comments Disabled (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01, 2012 @12:52AM (#41510707)

    Anyone else notice that the comments on his page are disabled. A whiny asshat bitches that he sucked and got shit-canned, and he ends up afraid of what people might say on his blog about it. Yeah, that's being "brutally honest" and manning up to it.

  • Re:What? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AchilleTalon (540925) on Monday October 01, 2012 @02:52AM (#41510983) Homepage
    Anyway, the lessons he learned don't worth 100M. Almost everyone learn them for free. Nothing special in this story at my humble opinion. Everyone with about 5 years at the workplace got these lessons. I estimate that 5 years is the average time to be fired these days.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 01, 2012 @05:11AM (#41511399)

    ...and not whether the guy is an asshole, but (a) he is an asshole and (b) what the hell WAS the lesson? This dipshit can't put together a coherent thought. To wit:

    Lesson 1 is not only wrong, it's uninformative. A company gets famous by making a fabulous product? No s**t. Or was it that a person gets famous by making a fabulous product? But he's a manager, not a creator. Did he mean he figured HE could get famous by... managing... a fabulous... product? F**k it, I'm done with that one.

    Lesson 2 insists in two consecutive sentences that he shouldn't have gone around the marketing guys, but what he did (i.e., go around the marketing guys) wasn't wrong. So, it's not wrong. But he shouldn't have done it. F**k it, I'm done with this one, too.

    Lesson 3 is that you need to see if your weaknesses are hindering your ability to do the job. That's... a lesson he needed to learn? Did he also learn that he needed to put on pants when he left the house in the morning? Who IS this idiot?

    The guy actually admits that he thought the company missed him after firing him, like Facebook (even in its early days) was some high school s.o., pining away for him. You're kidding, right? Who the hell has that kind of sense of self importance, especially a guy who, by his own admission, wasn't one of the driving forces at the company? I love that he actually follows this up with the insight that "everyone is replaceable." In fact, most people (but not all) are replaceable. Most of the people who are replaceable are business types who specialize in bureaucratic process control... like this dope. The creative types... less replaceable, depending on their skill and originality.

    Seriously, he talks about how he just wants to focus on the job instead of, you know, self-promotion, but here is bloviating on the internet about his "insights," all of which would be old news to anyone with emotional and intellectual maturity of a sixteen year old.

  • by History's Coming To (1059484) on Monday October 01, 2012 @05:58AM (#41511497) Journal
    Slashdot does not require me to link my account to others as part of the deal. Slashdot has no interest in my physical location. Slashdot does not track me on a multitude of other websites (OK, maybe a few that have /. buttons). Slashdot allows me to remain pseudonymous and still access the full range of non-subscriber features. Slashdot allows ACs. Slashdot has content that is generally of interest to me. Nobody on Slashdot knows who I really am.

    This is why I have a Slashdot account and why I have never signed up to Facebook.
  • Lost a fortune? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Monday October 01, 2012 @06:39AM (#41511567) Homepage Journal
    I presume the $100 million figure comes from stock options, and not from salary or personal investment. However anyone who has been watching the facebook stock (and smart enough to not buy it) knows it has been dropping rapidly; already less than half its IPO price. Being as employees are still not allowed to sell their shares, you can't say the employees have made anything off of the stock values yet.

    We'll see what its worth when employees start to cash out - or if it survives that happening.
  • He is showing regret that he should have learned these lessons before he screwed himself out of this kind of money. I didn't see anything in that blog post that suggested he was "cheated out of the money" and indeed suggested that he really wasn't fit to be getting that kind of money... at least with the skill sets that he had at the time he was fired. In fact, he even goes so far as to express that if the him of here and now was in charge of the him of then and when, that he would have fired himself in nearly the same way (perhaps more diplomatically, but it would have still happened).

    I've been in some of the same position more than a couple of times, where I made the wrong decision in my career where had I been able to take the skills I have today and have been in the position I was at elsewhen, I would have been a multi-millionaire myself. No real regrets, and I've learned those lessons over time. My hope is that other opportunities will arise that I can take advantage of and hopefully not screw up if it comes up again.

  • by VAElynx (2001046) on Monday October 01, 2012 @07:24AM (#41511693)
    I suspect that /. might be selling him slightly short - after all, he says he was promoted a while before that.
    What I suspect happened is that he was a fine worker where he was, and someone up thought of promoting him. What resulted was him peacocking as he admits, and not being of particular use at his new place, even creating fuckups. Well, they couldn't quite demote him again because he'd read it as being a stop to his career and would leave anyways, not doing much in the meantime - the logical, if nasty option was to show him the door as unexpectedly as possible.
    The actual lesson is: getting promoted doesn't mean you have everyone in your pocket yet.
  • by Bengie (1121981) on Monday October 01, 2012 @08:38AM (#41512109)
    Then don't browse sites with the "like" button. In order for the like button to work on a website, you must first authenticate. To make this transparent, it's done via a cookie and the site must also authenticate.

    From that info, FB gets to see which account you are and which site you've loaded. FB created this feature, end users love it, and web devel are using it. FB does not force this on anyone.
  • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Arrepiadd (688829) on Monday October 01, 2012 @10:58AM (#41513381)

    It's pretty funny that he says one of his mistakes was using Facebook to promote himself and that he learned not to do that. That he should help build something and the publicity comes as a consequence of that. And here we are, 6 years after he left Facebook, reading about him and Facebook.

    Clearly he learned all he's preaching

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