Quora just poached Facebook product whiz Sandra Liu Huang to lead product development, three sources confirm. (Update: Now Quora confirms, too.)At Facebook, Sandra last worked on the Instant personalisation program – the product that sites like Pandora, Yelp, and TripAdvisor use to integrate their visitors’ Facebook friends.
A source tells us she worked closely with Mark Zuckerberg in establishing the company’s 2011 plan.
Quora must be shelling out big equity to get Sandra. Sandra joined Facebook just three years ago, and one source familiar with her compensation package tells us she had “significant” vesting left at Facebook.
Before joining Facebook, Sandra worked at Google. There, she was a product manager on Checkout, and before that, AdWords and AdSense.
Sandra is already an active Quora user. The last question she answered was, “In this technology filled, information rich world, what tricks can we use to relax?“
Lately, we’ve been hearing that Facebook will make big counter-offers to product people who get offers from a startup.
Sources say the reason Facebook makes them is because while it has no problem hiring brilliant engineers out of top schools like Harvard and Stanford, it’s found it difficult to find product people who can be “mini-CEOs” and get things done.
The gossip in the Valley is that Facebook makes a particular effort to keep its employees from going to Quora. That’s because one of Quora’s two cofounders is Adam D’Angelo – the same Adam D’Angelo who grew up as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s best friend.
The pair went to Exeter together. Mark built his first very popular Web app, a proto-Pandora, together with Adam.
When Mark was a Harvard sophomore trying to figure what to do about a trio of Harvard seniors who wanted him to build a social network, he sent an instant message to Adam asking for advice on what to do.
Mark said, “I wonder what the ideal solution is,”
In a fateful response, D’Angelo wrote, “We could make it into a whole network like a friendster.”
Related: How Facebook Was Founded