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

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.”

Advertisement

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:

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
War Stories
Sept. 23 2014 4:04 PM The Right Target Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 1:50 PM Oh, the Futility! Frogs Try to Catch Worms off of an iPhone Video.
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.