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.”

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

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 21 2014 11:27 AM There Is Now a Real-life Hoverboard You Can Preorder for $10,000
  Life
Quora
Oct. 21 2014 11:37 AM What Was It Like to Work at the Original Napster?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 21 2014 12:05 PM Same-Sex Couples at Home With Themselves in 1980s America
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.