September 02, 2008

Ben Golub of FFToGo and RSSMeme Joins FriendFeed Full-Time

In the world of online companies and overnight Web sites, things can move pretty quickly. What might take years in the world of the enterprise can happen in weeks or months - as successes are claimed and lost, friends are made and disposed of, and new relationships are forged.

Over the last seven months, I've been witness to seeing Ben Golub launch a number of interesting sites, including RSSmeme (post), a Google Reader shared items tracker, DearLazyWeb (post), a service to get answers via Twitter, Tweet2Tweet (post), a way to see Twitter conversations, and finally, FFToGo (post), a mobile version of FriendFeed.

Now, today, it can be finally said he's chosen to settle down, as FriendFeed has hired him on full time, following more than a month's worth of part-time consulting for the company, where he helped chase down bug fixes and provide support to the service's growing user and developer bases. As FriendFeed co-founder Bret Taylor wrote in an introductory blog post, Ben's efforts on FFToGo, RSSmeme and in the developer forum all combined to make him the team's latest hire, one of a rare breed who hadn't previously worked at Google, where much of the team hails from.

I first learned of Golub's direct work with the FriendFeed team when I gave him the courtesy call on August 13th to let him know I'd be helping to advise ReadBurner, an assumed competitor to RSSmeme. At the time, he'd asked me to keep it quiet, saying it was only in a contributory role.

But a week later, when FriendFeed published two months of changes in their ChangeLog blog, chronicling updates to the service, Ben's efforts could be seen, going back to July 16th. This of course led to questions, but when I sent him a note asking if it was time to announce his role, his quick e-mail back, said, "Nothing to see here. I'm just consulting, and sometimes that does mean committing code. As you can tell from the logs most of it has been fixing things up here and there."

It looks like that "nothing" soon became something of real value. Now, Ben is joining one of the more exciting companies in Silicon Valley, and FriendFeed has essentially roped in one of their most dedicated users, much like they did with Gary Burd, the author of Mail2FF. Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb lauds the combination of Golub and FriendFeed, although I believe he incorrectly speculates that FriendFeed has acquired RSSmeme, as this was not mentioned in the announcement.

As I told Ben on the phone this evening, I'm glad to have helped bring visibility to some of his projects over the last few months, but my efforts were a small thing compared to the dedicated code-authoring Golub has put into each of his sites. FriendFeed has grown even stronger with this hire.
DISCLOSURE: I am an advisor to ReadBurner, an assumed competitor to RSSmeme and hold a small equity position.