Once an entrepreneur has sold his or her company and logged the required time with the acquiring outfit, he or she typically sets out to start another company — or become an investor. Josh Miller — whose startup, Branch, allowed groups of people to hold discussions and share links — is taking another tack.
Miller, 24, who sold his company to Facebook in January of last year for a reported $15 million, announced last week that he was leaving the social network for something new. That endeavor, he disclosed publicly today, is as the White House’s first Director of Product.
It’s seemingly a natural move for Miller, whose interests have included public service for some time. As a student at Princeton, he interned for a state senator. He also directed an amateur documentary about racial inequality in public schools. And before joining Facebook, he authored a lengthy criticism of Mark Zuckerberg’s lobbying organization, FWD.us, calling it too “opaque” to accomplish much of anything.
The Obama Administration holds particular appeal for him, writes Miller in a new post about his, well, new post, noting that in 2008, when he was “finally old enough to participate in my first election,” he voted for President Obama.
“The message of hope and change deeply resonated with me, and I was inspired by how the campaign had leveraged the internet in novel and meaningful ways.”
Indeed, though Miller wound up dropping out of Princeton to start Branch, he says his time on Capitol Hill largely inspired the company, which aimed to “enable people to see different perspectives clash and collide” with the hope that more openly communicating would “lead to greater understanding” on both sides.
It’s that same idea that Miller intends to build on in his new role.
Says Miller of his next steps: “My plan is to lean on the product ideals that I learned during the last four years building Branch and working at Facebook. Wouldn’t it be great if your government had a conversation with you instead of just talking at you? . . . Imagine if talking to the government was as easy as talking to your friends on social networks?”
Maybe with Miller working full-time for the government, we won’t have to imagine for long.