Facebook has hired Richard Williamson for its mobile-software group, according to Bloomberg. Mr. Williamson was part of the team that built the original iPhone, but is better known for being the manager in charge of developing the original Apple Maps service. He was fired from Apple after the launch of the service was panned.
Apple launched Apple Maps to replace Google Maps from iPhone and iPad in September of 2011. The move was long-expected and rumored, but it was met with withering criticism for problems with directions and mistakes in map data.
Apple has moved swiftly to improve the service, but vice president Scott Forstall and Richard Williamson both were sacked because of the problems. Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue fired Mr. Williamson n November as part of his efforts to rebuild the Maps team.
Bloomberg also noted that Facebook has been busy hiring other former Apple folks. Greg Novick was an iPhone manager who worked on the touch interface. Mike Matas and Kimon Tsinteris were iPhone software designers who left Apple has formed Push Pop Press. Facebook purchased that company and the two have stayed at the social networking giant.
Facebook has also hired Scott Goodson, Tim Omernick, and Chris Tremblay, all former Apple software engineers.
Loren Brichter is a former Apple employee who left to found Atebits, where he released the very popular Tweetie app. Twitter bought Tweety, and Mr. Brichter went to work at Twitter to develop the Twitter app for iPhone. He eventually left Twitter, however, and is now consulting for Facebook.
It's not particularly stunning that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has acquired a number of former Apple managers, designers, and engineers. Facebook is a large company, Apple is a large company, and there are a lot of people who used to work at both of them. Throw Google into the mix and you could repopulate the Rust Belt with former employees. In Silicon Valley, there is all sorts of moving about between all of these companies.
In addition, people who have grown wealthy on stock options sometimes leave the giants like Apple and Google to strike out on their own with startups. Those startups are then acquired by the large companies making for one large incestuous, yet virtuous circle.
We should also note that though Mr. Williamson was canned for the Apple Maps rollout, the problems associated with that rollout were caused in part by the way former VP Scott Forstall introduced the service. It was launched when it wasn't ready and it was very much over promised as a gorgeous system ready to replace the established and well-honed Google Maps.
Apple Maps was and is gorgeous, but it wasn't ready to be the default Maps system on Apple's iOS. Had Mr. Forstall introduced it as a beta service alongside the original Google-powered Maps app, for instance, Apple wouldn't have taken the same PR hit it did take.
Our point is that Mr. Williamson's reputation might have been besmirched in the tech world's echo chamber, but his career was longer and much more accomplished than just Apple Maps. Simply being part of the original iPhone team is enough to make anyone a legend in the industry, and with time that team is likely to be as storied as the original Macintosh team.
Facebook's hiring of him is the proof in that particular pudding.