It is perhaps unlikely that a Dutchman who only first signed up to use Facebook last year would now be one of the company’s most important employees — especially as Facebook heads toward a $75 to 100 billion IPO.But Dirk Stoop is.
Stoop is the Product Manager at Facebook in charge of photos, and photos are the main reason people use Facebook.
Prior to Facebook, sharing photos was a major pain. People took film to the grocery store and paid to get duplicates of each picture made. Then they had to mail the photos or scan them on to their computers and send heavy emails to everyone.
Now you just upload the photos to one place, tag them, and everyone in them is notified moments later.
Here are two pieces of data to support that theory:
- In his book, The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick says when Facebook first started allowing users to tag each other in photos in 2006, user engagement took off like a rocket. Suddenly 70% of users came back every day; 85% came back every week.
- On average, users upload more than 250 million photos to Facebook every day.
So if we’re right, and the reason Facebook is so popular and so valuable to investors is its photo-sharing product, then that makes Stoop someone whose work affects much of Facebook’s business – not to mention the daily habits of almost a billion people.
How did Stoop end up at Facebook?
Stoop, who’s name is pronounced more like “Deerk Stowpe,” took over photos from Sam Odio, who left the company in the fall.
He came to Facebook in July when the software studio he founded, Sofa B.V., was acquired. The purchase was a typical Facebook acquisition; its purpose was to hire the Sofa B.V.’s talent, not integrate its product.
According to his timeline, Stoop only joined Facebook as a user in April 2011. Soon after, he started to “friend” a bunch of Facebook employees. This makes sense considering acquisitions usually take a long time.
What kind of products has he made in the past?
Sofa B.V. made a bunch of applications for the Mac. Most of the seem to be made for users who are also software developers. For example, there’s Versions, an app that allows developers to track changes made to files. The nearest thing to photo-editing or photo-uploading software made by Sofa is something called Kaleidoscope. Users can load two pictures into Kaleidoscope and, with a handy set of tools, compare the differences between them.
This is a video demonstration of Kaleidescope:
What are his design sensibilities?
Big and bright. And industry source says: “[Sofa B.V.] apps and websites were gorgeous. Clean, minimal design but with splashes of incredible vibrant colour.”
Where will Stoop take Facebook photos?
In a tweet, Stoop says he admires Path, the mobile-based social network from former Facebooker Dave Morin. He hates the “little floating clock” that wheels back in time as a user scrolls down through their friends’ activity. “I have the hardest time looking at anything else,” he tweets.
What do his coworkers think of him?
A former coworker named Gaby Van Wijk-Leon told us via email:
Dirk is a greatly focused on details. He is also empathetic and has great understanding of people’s emotions and behaviours. These two well-developed skills make Dirk capable of create great products that will connect with users on different levels.
Of Dirk I only expect great results. I fully trust his precision. People might not be able explain why they like what Dirk creates but they will be engaged on a deeper level.
She says Dirk and his colleagues are “madly in love” with their work.