Dear Facebook: Please Stop Trying To Steal My Co-Founder

A Note from Aaron: I published this post on my old blog when I was in my 20s and thought I knew more than I did. When launching my new site, I could either trash old content like this or port it over. I decided to port it over as a personal archive and reminder of my own evolution. In other words, sorry it sucks.


Dear Facebook,

I’m the backend developer for a growing startup called RocketBolt. As a startup, we have to overcome all sorts of hurdles like, you know, getting new users, improving our infrastructure, making sure we can pay our hosting bills every month — pretty much the usual. None of it bothers me because I was prepared for all the usual startup things. I was prepared to have friends and family smirkily asking me “So what new company are you building this week?” every time I see them. I was prepared for 48-hour, Adderall-fueld workdays. I was even prepared to start sneaking in and out of my fifth-story apartment via my four-story emergency escape ladder in order to avoid my landlord in case money got too tight.  But no one prepared me for the barrage of Facebook recruiters constantly trying to steal my co-founder, and it’s starting to piss me off.

Let me rewind a bit and explain what’s been going on. As I wrote before, I’m the backend developer for RocketBolt. That means I handle all the really tricky behind-the-scenes code that lets us generate a completely custom, fully-featured, dynamic application that then gets remotely embedded onto websites we have no control over via a single line of code. It’s not an easy task, but I love every minute of working on it because I’m either a masochistic idiot or… well… I’m not really sure what the other option is. I’m also lucky enough to be a backend developer whose childhood best friend became an extremely talented frontend developer and my eventual co-founder. That’s right — no Twitter Bootstrap for me! I don’t remember the last time I had to care what some ancient version of Internet Explorer does to my CSS, and I still produce great looking websites. It’s awesome.

But there’s one problem with the great working relationship my co-founder and I have, and, Facebook, it’s because of you. Not just you, of course. It’s also because of Google, and LinkedIn, and Groupon, and Twitter, and any number of other startup-dream-crushing goliaths. You all have discovered just how talented my co-founder is, and now your smooth-talking corporate headhunters are trying to hire him.

As with any relationship problems, I realize I can’t just blame someone else for everything. I realize I’m partially at fault, too. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I can see that I put myself in this position. I realize that when my co-founder designs an award-winning website like Intellisult.com, no one cares that the little rewards tab in the corner of the page exists because I spent eight months of blood, sweat, and code building a script that could be seamlessly integrated into any website without causing a single JavaScript, CSS, or page load glitch. No one can view the thousands of lines of code needed to build a custom admin interface to manage all of the application’s functionality. No one can know how the dozens of layers of security infrastructure work in order to limit spam and fraud. No, the only thing people see is a pretty looking website. And since I’m not the person who made the website pretty, I’m not the person getting six figure job offers.

Honestly, I’m fine with that. I don’t need your job offers to validate my work. I know I’m good at what I do. But what I do need is for you to stop trying to convince my co-founder to become your next mid-level designer because, let’s face it, a cushy job at a multi-billion-dollar company offering a steady income and dental benefits gets harder to turn down after each and every bite of Ramen.

So please, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, and even Yahoo if you still exist, stop trying to steal my co-founder.

Or, at the very least, give me an office next to his.

Thanks,
Aaron

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I teach in Duke University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship program and founded RocketBolt. I write about startups, pedagogy, entrepreneurship, engineering, and poetry. They’re all related, I promise.

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  • I’m hosting today’s @dukeinnovation “Lunch & Learn.” I’m talking with my colleagues about #socialmedia and trying to convince them to take it seriously, so I made them take a group photo for me to post.
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In related news, doing this kind of thing is why I’ll probably never get #tenure
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#entrepreneur #startups #lunchandlearn #mycolleagueshateme
  • Today, I lead the first meeting of a @dukeinnovation faculty committee about creating a methodology for teaching #entrepreneurship that can apply to any type of #venture.
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Mind you, by “lead the meeting” I mostly just mean I was lucky to be in the same room with an amazing group of #scholars and #entrepreneurs who didn’t need any help from me to have a fascinating debate about how to accomplish a nearly impossible task.
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But at least I got to take a picture from the head of the table 😁
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#mycolleaguesarebrilliant #innovation #entrepreneur #wholetmein
  • Brought my daughter with me to watch my @dukeinnovation students graduate. She got to see dozens of examples of the kind of person I hope she becomes: brilliant, kind, thoughtful, articulate, talented, caring, confident, and really good at producing high quality work despite a propensity for procrastination 😁
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Thanks, #duke2018 #graduates for making me love going to school every day. I hope your journeys beyond @dukeuniversity take you into jobs as amazing and rewarding as mine.
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#graduation #innovation #entrepreneurship #classof2018 #bluedevils
  • Drinks at the @thelakewooddurham with the @dukeuniversity Junior Faculty Association to celebrate the end of another great semester.
  • Congrats to all my @dukeinnovation seniors who gave their final Capstone presentations yesterday.
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No more #homework. Now it’s time for the #realworld.
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#duke2018
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#innovation #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship
  • Threw an LMOC (Last Monday of Classes) party in my #learningtofail class.
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The students had to convince their friends to bring food, and they earned points based on how many calories they got delivered to class.
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Lots of cookies and candies. But the winner was the student who convinced his friend to deliver 30 pounds of flour. 🤣
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#innovation #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #startup #ldoc #partytime
  • Asked my #learningtofail students to sell a @jollyrancher for $100 today. For the first time ever, everyone #failed.
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In related news, I heard a report from a campus tour guide that dozens of prospective students and their families were continuously being solicited to buy absurdly expensive candy during their campus visits.
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What a strange coincidence. Must have been someone else selling candy today, too...😒
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#innovation #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #sweettooth #collegevisits
  • Finally had a freshman discover the Duke-sponsored free lunch opportunity.
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I forgot to ask Julia about the most important thing she’s learned in my class, but she’s taking another one with me next semester, so I feel like that’s a good sign she’s not just using me to get free food ☺️
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#innovation #entrepreneur #entrepreneruship #socialmediamarketing #teaching #freelunch
  • The end-of-semester FLUNCH parade continues... this time with Thomas, one of my soon-to-be-graduating seniors in the @dukeinnovation capstone who’s heading off to work @txinstruments.
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When asked to share the most important thing I’ve taught him about #entrepreneurship, Thomas had trouble coming up with an answer. Sounds about right 🤔
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#entrepreneur #innovation #teaching #freelunch #duke2018
  • “When you go into a company, whatever you decide to do, you want to be closest to the money. That’s the safest place to be in every business.” - @cleithe, VP of Sales for @adwerxre, who I conned into speaking to both my @dukeinnovation capstone classes.
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#sales #marketing #startups #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #innovation
  • Doing a little FLUNCH with @adam_kershner,  Ben Lee, and Adam’s freshman roommate who was just there for the free lunch ☺️
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Adam says the most important thing I taught him was: “How to think differently and approach problems in an unorthodox way, and how that approach to problem solving is one of the most valuable lessons from Duke.”
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Honestly, I don’t think I taught him that. I think he already knew it when he showed up as a freshman in my very first class @dukeuniversity. Now he’s a graduating senior in my @dukeinnovation capstone, and it’s been a privilege to watch his Duke journey. I’m sure he’s going to do great things, and I look forward to following his post-college journey via Instagram.
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P.S. Adam, tell Ben to follow me here so I can keep tabs on him, too 😉
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#innovation #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #startups #teaching #duke2018
  • “I’m not tasked with trying to sell you anything. Thankfully. There’s nothing more boring. What we’re looking to do is be magnetic. Pull you into our orbit. Be interesting.” -  @gavinohara, the global social creative lead for @lenovo, talking with my @dukeinnovation class about the importance of sharing good content online instead of trying to “sell.”
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#entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #innovation #socialmediamarketing #socialmarketing #startups #corporatemarketing

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