Facebook’s Design team has picked up the partners from Teehan+Lax, the Toronto design firm responsible for the good looks and excellent UX high-profile tech startup projects including Medium. Partners and select staff small firm will be relocating from Toronto to the Bay Area as the firm itself shuts down, and will be working on various projects, with their primary stated motivation being the scope at which they’ll be able to work, without having to also worry about all the business and other day-to-day headaches that come with scaling a business.
In a lengthy post explaining the move, Teehan+Lax partner Jon Lax explained their motivation for selling to Facebook, and a big part of it seems to be that they wanted to work on creative projects that would reach huge audiences all over the world. The team was interested in working on projects at scale, but not necessarily on also scaling the service side of their agency business to match the breadth of their product aspirations. Per their blog post:
Ultimately, the things we would get to do at Facebook, the people we would get to work with, the problems we get to solve were too compelling to say no to.
Former partner Jeremy Bell, who left the company back in 2014 to found Wattage, an on-demand electronics production startup, explained in an interview with TechCrunch that his and partner Peter Nitsch’s departure from the company prompted some changes at Teehan+Lax in terms of how they thought about the future of the business. Remaining partners Geoff Teehan, Dave Gillis and Lax met to discuss alternatives for the future of the firm that included acquisitions. Bell said the company had been approached multiple times in the past, but this was the first time the firm started taking these offers more seriously. While the end result here wasn’t an actual acquisition, but an acquihire, it stemmed from those considerations.
Ultimately, Teehan+Lax’s founding partners get to focus on the kind of work that got them into business in the first place at Facebook, and now that the social network giant is working on new projects seemingly every few weeks, they won’t want for variety. The motivation for joining FB at the design firm sounds not unlike that of Oculus: Once you alleviate the pressing business concerns, product becomes the focus.
It’s not all roses, though – per one former Teehan+Lax employee, 40 people were let go from the firm as a result of the shut down. That does free up a lot of talent in the Toronto pool, however, which will hopefully end up as a net benefit to the local startup scene.