In his six years at Facebook, Ari Steinberg sired the Platform, ran the news feed, and started the Seattle engineering office, but now he’s decided to move on, TechCrunch has learned and Facebook as well as Steinberg have confirmed. Friday will be his last day working for the social network.
Steinberg verified that founding a travel startup is first on his post-Facebook itinerary.
Ari had a storied tenure, joining Facebook back when it was holed up in modest digs in downtown Palo Alto. He’s known as an instrumental figure that helped turn the news feed into one of the site’s most beloved features. He also crafted the Facebook Platform in 2007 with Dave Morin, making the social network a home for third-party apps.
More recently, Steinberg moved to Seattle to open Facebook’s first remote engineering office. There he built Facebook Messenger For Windows, the company’s first official piece of desktop software.
But after being at the social network for so long, it seems he wants a new challenge. That shouldn’t be taken as a sign Facebook is having trouble retaining talent, but more that he’s grown and learned enough to take his own shot at entrepreneurship. Steinberg tells me “I’ve had an amazing 6 and a half years here, I feel lucky to have worked on such cool stuff with such talented people, and I’m looking forward to trying something new.”
Facebook will need to attract fresh blood or pull from its deep bench of talent as veteran employees like Steinberg, CTO Bret Taylor, and Platform leader Carl Sjogreen depart. In this case, the company has already chosen long-time Facebook software engineer Wayne Change and more recent hire Rohit Wad as the new co-heads of the Seattle office.
Steinberg’s Facebook knowledge will surely serve him at his new startup, as travel is quickly becoming a very social industry.
Apps like Tripl and Cities I’ve Visited have seen huge growth on the platform Ari built. Meanwhile, travel companies are seeing huge returns from Facebook ads, with Inside Facebook reporting that one got $25 in bookings for each dollar in Facebook ad spend.
Travel also looks like a good fit for Steinberg’s passions. He was on safari in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area earlier this month.
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and Eduardo Saverin to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks. The original...