Noah Kagan: Why I got fired from Facebook
Noah Kagan, one of Facebook’s first ever employees, was forced to leave the up-and-coming social network in 2006, and he missed out on a payday which could have totaled $100 million.
Noah Kagan, who is now running online startup AppSumo, was the 30th employee at Facebook when he was hired by founder Mark Zuckerberg as a product manager.
At the time, Facebook was a scrappy newcomer – Noah Kagan says: “Most decisions were me walking over to Mark’s desk for approval.”
And many employees were deeply devoted to the company – not least the young project manager who had graduated from Berkeley two years earlier.
“Facebook was my entire life,” he writes in the blog post explaining how he came to be fired.
“My social circle, my validation, my identity and everything was tied to this company.”
Noah Kagan also pays tribute to his fellow employees, most of whom were graduates of – or dropouts from – elite Ivy League universities.
“I’ve NEVER been around such smart people,” he says.
“I’ve never felt so consistent like I wasn’t the smartest person in the room.”
However, while he may have been enjoying his time at Facebook, Noah Kagan was apparently not always the most popular figure in the room.
“I wanted attention, I put myself before Facebook,” he says.
“I hosted events at the office, published things on this blog to get attention and used the brand more than I added to it.”
Moreover, as the firm grew, it changed from an entrepreneurial organization to more of a bureaucratic behemoth – and Noah Kagan failed to change with it.
He writes on his blog of his frustration at having to go through a secretary every time he wanted to see Mark Zuckerberg, and admits that in big meetings he “zoned the f*** out”.
But the last straw was when Facebook changed its membership policy to allow non-students to have accounts, and Noah Kagan leaked the information to a journalist.
While partying at the Coachella festival, he emailed a contact asking him to publicize the information as soon as the change was made the next day – but the journalist wrote a story on it that same night.
Noah Kagan was called in for a meeting with Matt Cohler, then Facebook’s head of product management, and told that he had become a “liability” to the company after eight months working there.
He was marched back to the office, where he had his telephone and computer taken away.
At the time he was devastated, and he now claims that it took him a year to get over the pain of rejection.
You might think that that pain would only have got worse over the years, as Facebook grew and this year’s IPO turned many of its earliest employees into multi-millionaires.
Yet even though he estimates he could have earned $100 million if he had stayed at the company, Noah Kagan insists he has no regrets.
Having worked at web firms such as Mint.com and KickFlip before starting AppSumo, he says of his departure from Facebook: “It is what it is.”
“Ultimately, I appreciate where I am now and all the experiences I got from NOT being there.”
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