It's Zuck's World We're Just Living In It

The Facebook Mafia is About to Make it Rain

More millionaires are about to hit the Valley, but can they live up to the PayPal cabal?
 The Facebook Mafia is About to Make it Rain

Mr. Cohler (flickr.com/fortunelivemedia)

The New York Times has dedicated its front page web spot to a story on the incestuous world of ex-Facebookers and the many companies they have spawned, funded and acquired since leaving Facebook. It should probably strike you as unsurprising at this point that the majority of these people are newly-rich white dudes with vast amounts of influence.

At the center of the funding-my-friends universe seems to be Matt Cohler, Facebook’s employee number seven, who the Times says “has been especially deft at working his connections.” He is now a partner at Benchmark Capital, and according to the Times, he “has raised money for several companies founded by Facebook alumni,” including Quora, Asana, and Peixe and Urbano. He has also personally invested in Path and Instagram.

Helping out your friends is certainly nothing new, especially not for the tech industry. “It’s only natural,” former Facebook executive Netanel “Net” Jacobsson told us over email a few months ago. “People who have been working together and know each other and also trust each others judgment regarding new opportunities, that they invest together = social proof.”

We’ve reported on the Facebook mafia before–an elite set of ex-Facebook employees who have spun out to launch their own startups. But the New York Times’s breathless coverage seems to be a little more positive about the future of these startups than sources have previously indicated to us.

“I’m intrigued by the fact that Facebook doesn’t seem to be proving to have the kind of second-act momentum among early employees that PayPal had, and I wonder why that is,” a source told us back in February. “I don’t have high hopes for Asana, Quora, or Path either, but maybe it’s too early to make a judgment call.”

But now that Facebook is about to IPO, the amount of ex-Facebookers with money to burn and a million-dollar idea is about to explode. The IPO will either usher in a new era of amazing companies, like Paypal’s IPO did, or else we’ll see a lot of mid-tier, highly hyped startups with questionable revenue models.

Either way, it’s a good time to be a Facebook employee.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com