Name You Need To Know in 2011: Bret Taylor

Facebook has a new chief technology officer, Bret Taylor. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday that Director of Platform Bret Taylor has been promoted to chief technology officer–a position that the company had not previously counted among its ranks.Taylor took on the role of director of platform at Facebook, and led the recent rollout of Facebook’s Open Graph and Open Graph API, which attempts to make social connections on the Web as important as hyperlinks. He played a key role in making the Facebook platform much simpler to build on.

Now he is being promoted to the vacant CTO role, where he will oversee other projects beyond the Facebook platform including search and the News Feed/homepage. The CTO position at Facebook has remained unfilled since Adam D’Angelo left in 2008 to start social Q&A service Quora.

Taylor joined Facebook last summer when the company acquired his start-up FriendFeed, a social-media aggregator that was rife with ex-Google engineering talent and Silicon Valley early-adopter hype, but slow on mainstream uptake. Shortly after Taylor and his team joined Facebook, the company open-sourced the Tornado server, which powered FriendFeed’s impressive real-time streaming capabilities.

Below is the email Mark Zuckerberg sent out to all Facebook employees moments ago announcing Taylor’s promotion, which Facebook provided to TechCrunch:

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Internal Email from Mark Zuckerberg
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Hey everyone,
I have some good news to share with all of you. I’ve created a new role and have asked Bret Taylor to become our CTO.
Bret joined us almost a year ago as our director of platform products. Since then, he has played a key role in building many parts of our new platform, including social plugins, our new graph API and the Open Graph. Since f8, already more than 100,000 sites use social plugins and our new API has received lots of praise for its elegance and simplicity. In addition, Bret has helped shape my thinking on products, engineering and strategy in many ways.

Today, Bret has just a couple of direct reports and gets things done by being a helpful source of advice and positively influencing decisions on a number of products. I’ve been talking with him recently about how he could play a similar role working with a few other areas to help shape our direction as well. Since Bret engages both in technical and product issues, I decided that creating a new CTO position outside of both engineering and product was the best way to formalize this new role.

In this role, Bret will report to me and will not manage anyone else. The CTO role is not a management role. The roles of building and running the product, engineering and operations organizations aren’t changing at all here. If you would have gone to Schrep, Chris Cox or Heiliger for something in the past, you should still go to them now. (Although, to be honest, Schrep, Cox, Bret and I all sit in the same pod so you can pretty much grab any of us at the same time.)

Bret will stay focused on Platform, but this new role sets him up to help out more in other areas as well. The platform product management work Bret has been doing will continue to report to Cox and the product organization as he does this. One of the reasons we can make this change is because of the great work Mike Vernal has been doing to lead the engineering team. I’m highly confident in him to continue building out this organization.

When I look around product and engineering, there are so many unique things we’re building with very leveraged small teams right now. Platform is the foundation for an entire industry, and our team has about 30 engineers. News Feed is the home page for more than 250 million people every day, and our team has fewer than 15 engineers. Our search type ahead serves the same order of magnitude of queries as Google, and our team has fewer than 15 engineers. These are examples of transformative products that we’re going to build out over the next few years and I’m focused on making sure we build them out the right way.

If you have a moment, please join me in congratulating Bret on his new role. If you have questions about this or anything else, feel free to shoot me a note or come ask it at our next Open Q&A.

Mark

Prior to launching FriendFeed and selling it to Facebook, Taylor was part of the team at Google that released Google Maps.