Ali Rosenthal joined Facebook back in early 2006, when it was a 50 person startup with 4 million users and she quit at the end of 2011 when it employed 3,500 people and was closing in on a billion users. As a member of Facebook’s founding business team, she helped pioneer their mobile business, growing their mobile base from 100,000 to 250 million and leaving as the company’s head of mobile business development. But after a year as the Executive-in-Residence at Greylock, Rosenthal is back at a small startup. In July, she became the COO at MessageMe, the 17 person real-time mobile communications platform which raised a Series A round of $10 million in May.
So why MessageMe? I asked her. Why would a heavy hitter like Ali Rosenthal join a little start-up?
I “bet on people”, she told me – reeling off a list of names at MessageMe including co-founders Alex Chee and Arjun Sethi. And, of course, it’s the product too. MessageMe is what Rosenthal calls a “multi-model messaging” system, built for “speed”, and designed to “mimic” real conversation. In contrast with Facebook, which she describes as a “web product”, Rosenthal sees MessageMe – which has been designed specifically for smartphones – as the future of real-time rich communications.
As an accomplished athlete, Rosenthal knows all about the importance of timing. She made a smart choice in 2006 when she joined Facebook. And I suspect that her decision to join MessageMe might well also look remarkably prescient in a few years time.