Although I am sure there are notable exceptions, the concept of “finding” a technical co-founder was something I had never heard of in my 15 years in Silicon Valley. Maybe it’s because I am a three time company co-founder who is technical first and business focused second, but, to me, the founding team always needed to be there from the start of the company — or it would not be a company at all. Technology had to woven into the business plan and featured front and center before any VC pitches were given. West Coast tech has seen its share of founding teams. Some founders may have been more technical, some focused on business (Wozniak + Jobs), but usually, it is the “business guy” that was sought after the company got going (Brinn & Page + Schmidt) , (Gates & Allen + Ballmer), not the other way around as often happens in New York.
Two days ago, I attended an amazing dinner hosted by David Kirkpatrick of Technomy.com. It was a chance to discuss some of the ways in which technology has influenced society and what’s in store for the future. One of the guests on the grand guest list happened to be Kevin Colleran of Facebook — the man in charge of global partnerships and revenue and the second longest-tenured employee at the company (after Zuckerberg). Kevin was asked about things he had learned during his work at Facebook. One of the lessons, he said, was that (paraphrasing) “technology has to be there from the very beginning” — which immediately made me smile. He felt that Facebook could not have become Facebook if it was strictly a business idea driven by business guys with a business vision. Technical innovation, he felt, was one of the keys to the company’s success. Hmm… how apropos. Maybe Zuckerberg had a “find a technical co-founder” todo on his task list, but I doubt it. Just as I am sure the Winklevoss twins had a “find a geek to code this thing” task on theirs. The Winklevii today would probably go to a tech co-founder event, cast their net, and snag an engineer. But, guess what? The engineer would not have been Zuckerberg, and the company would not be Facebook.