Facebook makes nearly all of its money from ads. It’s also begun investing in moonshot projects from virtual reality headsets to drones and laser communication systems.
One area it doesn’t talk about: the $US3.5 trillion enterprise tech market. That’s how much money businesses spend on tech every year to run their companies and help employees do their jobs.
Although Facebook did recently introduce an experiemental Facebook At Work service which lets teams use Facebook to communicate and share stuff, it’s not much of a focus for the company.
All of which might make it seem as if Facebook has been completely absent from that that $US3.5 trillion market.
But it hasn’t.
Facebook has actually helped cook up a whole bunch of startups that want to change the way enterprises use tech.
They were inspired by how Facebook uses technology to run its massive social network, often giving away the technology it invents for free, everything from data center hardware designs to databases.
Here’s a look at some of the unusual enterprise startups from Facebook.
FB Alum: Amir Michael, Jonathan Heiliger
Funding: Seed Round
Michael was previously hardware design manager and Heiliger as VP of infrastructure at FB, and they both played key roles in launching the company's Open Compute Project.
They're veterans of disrupting the data center, and together with Amir's brother Yoni, they founded Coolan, a crowdsourced, analytics platform that provides insights on server performance.
Facebook alums: Bobby Johnson, Lior Abraham
Funding: $US28.2 million, total
Johnson was a director of engineering at FB for six years, responsible for scaling the site from millions to billions of users.
Abraham invented a specialised database called SCUBA while at Facebook. It's a visual analytics tool adopted by over half of the company's employees that lets Facebook see how Facebook's technology is performing in real time.
Together with Johnson's wife Ann, they founded Interana, a self-service data analytics tool. Customers include Sony, Tinder, Jive, Microsoft and Imgur.
Facebook alum: Philip Liu
Funding: $US28.5 million, total
Liu was a software architect at Facebook where he developed software that helped Facebook setup and monitor IT systems.
He went on to co-found SignalFX that detects patterns about the health of the IT infrastructure. Yelp and Tapjoy are customers.
Facebook alum: Avinash Lakshman
Funding: $US30.5 million, total
While an engineer at Facebook, Lakshman created Apache Cassandra, a popular 'big data' database originally built to handle Facebook's Inbox Search feature. Facebook gave Cassandra away as a free and open-source software project and its now a very popular databased used by oodles of companies.
Lakshman went on to found Hedvig, which offers software that makes all of a company's computer storage system act is if it was just one really big, really fast hard disk. Hedvig also runs on ordinary, low-cost x86-based servers, similar to Cassandra.
Facebook alums: Ashish Thusoo, Joydeep Sen Sarma
Funding: $US20 million, total
Thusoo and Sen Sarma built and led Facebook's data infrastructure team, one of the largest data processing and analytics platforms in the world.
They went on to found Qubole in 2011, a big-data-as-a-service firm that manages every aspect of analysing data in the cloud. Customers include Pinterest, Quora, and Answers.com.
Facebook-led Open Compute Project alum: Cole Crawford
The Open Compute Project (OCP) was started by Facebook to let anyone help design data center hardware, sharing the designs for servers, storage, network for free, a concept known as 'open source hardware.' Crawford was OCP's first executive director.
Vapour IO makes open-source hardware and software for building and managing data centres inspired by, and aligned with the designs created by the OCP community.
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