Book Excerpt: How Facebook Turned Down $1 Billion

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XSeed Capital is excited to announce the April 6 book launch of Becoming Facebook: The 10 Challenges That Defined the Company That’s Disrupting the World, written by XSeed Executive-in-Residence, Mike Hoefflinger. The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3.


In the summer of 2009, Silicon Valley’s (and my) past met its (and my) future.

I had worked at Intel from 1992 to 2008 and directly for former CEO Andy Grove from 1999 to 2001. In January 2009, I had moved to working at Facebook after interviewing with its business and engineering leaders as well as with Sandberg and Zuckerberg. When I had reached out to both Grove and Zuckerberg to see whether they’d be interested in connecting with each other over lunch, both agreed.

We found ourselves sitting at one of the outdoor tables on the small patio behind Facebook’s eclectic building adjacent to a Palo Alto neighborhood at the top of South California Avenue. The 50-year-old landmark, affectionately known inside Facebook simply by its street number—1601—and home to the entire company for a brief period prior to the 2011 move into its much larger and ever growing campus in nearby Menlo Park, has since been leveled to make room for larger buildings, dissociating our memories of navigating privacy crises, building client relationships, achieving unprecedented growth and surviving existential competition with Google from the place where we lived them.

Grove was the 72-year-old Silicon Valley legend. Cofounder, CEO and chairman of Intel, the company that more than any other gave the Valley its name and whose microprocessors were responsible for enabling personal computing and cost-effective servers and, with them, the Internet. When Silicon Valley talks about building on the shoulders of giants, it’s Grove’s shoulders we’re talking about. His passing in March 2016 was the end of a world-altering era.

Zuckerberg was the 25-year-old ascendant newcomer building services at a scale and speed only possible because of Grove’s legacy. It was a meeting of the veteran who had made possible a billion connected computers and the rookie on his way to connecting the billion people on those computers.

In the early stages of the conversation, the two circled slowly and respectfully in shallow waters. Grove trying to determine the legitimacy—his bar was notoriously high—of his lunch companion, something I had seen him do in dozens of one-on-one meetings a decade earlier with the likes of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Yahoo’s Jerry Yang, Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, eBay’s Meg Whitman and LoudCloud’s Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz (now better known as the venture capital firm a16z). Zuckerberg, in turn, was looking to find common ground with Grove, the statesman who had jumped off the pages of the management bible Only the Paranoid Survive—a must-read for self-respecting technology leaders—and who now sat in front of him.

A few minutes in, Grove made his move. A direct question meant not to disrespect or trivialize but to penetrate to a more interesting place for both of them: “How did you turn down Yahoo’s $1 billion?”

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