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, 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.


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Aaron Dinin

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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