23-Year-Old Facebook Critic Sells His Startup to Facebook, Now "Bullish" on Facebook

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Jan. 13 2014 2:45 PM

23-Year-Old Facebook Critic Sells His Startup, Goes to Work for Facebook

Josh Miller, right, and his Branch co-founders.
Josh Miller, right, and his Branch co-founders.

Screenshot / Branch blog

Before the Guardian declared Facebook “dead and buried to teens”—before Ruby Karp told Mashable, “I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook”—there was Josh Miller. Or, more precisely, Josh Miller’s 15-year-old sister.

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

Way back in December 2012, Miller—the precocious Princeton dropout who co-founded the social-media startup Branch—wrote a widely-shared post on Medium titled, “Tenth Grade Tech Trends.” The post recounted a conversation Miller had with his unnamed younger sister about what social networks were trending among the high-school-sophomore set. Among other observations, Miller’s sister told him that “she tries to visit Facebook as infrequently as possible.” Miller’s takeaway: “Facebook may have an irreversibly bad brand.”

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That wasn’t the only broadside the youngster fired at the social networking giant. As Business Insider’s Jay Yarow recounts, Miller went on to chide Facebook for “missing the boat on mobile” and blast Mark Zuckerberg’s lobbying group for “effectively” bribing politicians.

Fast forward a year. Despite backing from Twitter’s co-founders, neither Branch nor Miller’s latest project, Obvious, has taken off. Facebook stock, meanwhile, is trading near its record high.

Miller, now 23, has responded the way any self-respecting trend-chaser would. Two weeks ago, he wrote a post on Medium titled, “Why I’m Bullish on Facebook.” And today, he announced that he’s selling Branch and Potluck … to Facebook. And going to work for them.

Miller announced the news of his big move—where else?—on Facebook.

As the dad in SLC Punk would say: “I didn’t sell out, son. I bought in.

Previously in Slate:

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