Longtime Facebook employee Dave Morin announced on his personal blog Friday that he's leaving the company and will be starting up a new endeavor with original Napster creator Shawn Fanning.
At Facebook, which Morin joined late in 2006 following a marketing gig at Apple, he served as "senior platform manager." He became one of the company's most high-profile representatives when it launched its developer platform in 2007 and then Facebook Connect in 2008.
His departure is not surprising. While Morin, now 29 and recently engaged to a Googler, had been extremely prominent at Facebook for quite some time, he wasn't a C- or VP-level executive, and his work with small-time developers building businesses on Facebook's platform tapped into an obvious desire to build a company of his own. With Facebook now numbering well over 350 million members, both the Platform and Facebook Connect thoroughly matured as products, and the company's executive ranks rapidly filling up with longtime Silicon Valley, advertising, and D.C. veterans, Morin's time was drawing to an understandable close. Developer initiatives at Facebook, too, may soon be turned to more specific niches like geolocation and payment transactions, two fields that would require a different kind of expertise.
As for the new company, all Morin says in his blog post is that it will be "part of the Facebook Connect community on the other side," and that he and Fanning will "be exploring a few ideas and hope to come back to you with something interesting soon." He characterizes their current stage as a "stealth-ish mode."
The Facebook-Napster connections, too, go way back. Fanning's co-founder at Napster, Sean Parker, went on to become Facebook's founding president after meeting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in the social network's early days. (Parker will be played by pop star Justin Timberlake in the unauthorized film adaptation of Facebook's early days, "The Social Network.") As for Fanning, after the Napster debacle that saw the groundbreaking peer-to-peer file-sharing service shut down and then relaunched as a second-tier subscription service that eventually sold to Best Buy, he built a start-up called Snocap that by all accounts failed to pay off well. But he then sold a gaming start-up, Rupture, to Electronic Arts for $80 million.
Fanning remains a perennial idol of young, fight-the-system hackers; Morin spearheaded what's arguably the Web's best example of a well-groomed, strictly regulated developer environment. Whatever they do together, it'll be interesting to watch.