Leaving Yahoo was the best decision these 11 people ever made

From co-owning an NFL team to selling a startup to Facebook for $US19 billion, former Yahoo employees have found a lot of success by leaving their cubicles in search of the next big thing.

Here’s a list of the most successful founders who cut their teeth at Yahoo.

Software engineers Jan Koum and Brian Acton left Yahoo in 2007 to travel the world. Once they came back to Silicon Valley, they tried to get jobs at Facebook, but were both turned down. A few months later, Koum and Acton founded WhatsApp, the international messaging app in 2009. Five years later, Facebook bought their company for $19 billion.

WhatsApp Co-Founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton

Dave Goldberg was a rabid music fan and co-founded Launch Media, an online music site and magazine, in 1995. The company later developed an internet radio service, and Yahoo swooped in to acquire it in 2001 for $12 million. Goldberg stayed on at Yahoo to become its GM of music until he left in 2007. After a stint at Benchmark Capital, Goldberg's next debut was as CEO of SurveyMonkey, which he helped grow into a $2 billion company before his death in May 2015.

SurveyMonkey CEO Goldberg speaks at Reuters Global Technology Summit in San Francisco

A protégé of Dave Goldberg, Ian Rogers was also at Yahoo Music and went on to become VP and GM until he left the company in 2008. He went to TopSpin Media for four years until he joined Beats Music as CEO in 2013. He's stayed with Beats Music as its become part of the Apple family. He is now senior director of Apple Music.

Beats CEO Ian Rogers with Dr. Dre

Albert Lee was a product manager at Yahoo until 2006. After a short stint at Webjuice, Lee returned to his family roots and joined his brother, Mike Lee, to create nutrition tracking app MyFitnessPal in 2009. The duo sold the company to Under Armour in 2014 for $475 million.

Albert Lee, left, with his brother Mike Lee

The IPO-bound data analytics company, Cloudera, boasts two ex-Yahoo employees among its ranks. Amr Awadallah is a co-founder and CTO of the Hadoop software company, which also employs Doug Cutting, a Yahoo alum and co-founder of Hadoop itself. Cloudera is now valued at $4.7 billion and is rumoured to be on-track for an IPO soon.

Another Hadoop company, Hortonworks, was founded two years later in 2011 after it was spun out of Yahoo. Its eight co-founders are all former Yahoo employees and its initial investment of $23 million was partially from Yahoo. Despite launching after Cloudera, it beat the company to an IPO in December 2014.

The full list of Hortonworks' founders includes (in alphabetical order) Alan Gates, Arun Murthy, Devaraj Das, Eric Baldeschwieler, Mahadev Konar, Owen O'Malley, Sanjay Radia and Suresh Srinivas.

Polyvore was the brainchild of three ex-Yahoo engineers: Pasha Sadri, Guangwei Yuan and Jianing Hu. The social commerce site recently returned to the Yahoo fold after it was acquired in July 2015 for a reported $60 million.

Pasha Sadri, one of the ex-Yahoo cofounders of Polyvore and its original CEO

Eric Marcoullier is a serial entrepreneur, which is how he ended up at Yahoo and then exited it. Marcoullier first founded IGN, a network of gaming information sites, and later MyBlogLog, a social network for bloggers. Yahoo acquired MyBlogLog and Marcoullier stayed at the company for six months, until he left and co-founded social data analytics company Gnip, and OneTrueFan, which let users check in to web sites (sort of like Foursqure for the web). BigDoor bought OneTrueFan in 2011, and Twitter picked up Gnip in 2014 for $134 million.

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