Google Maps co-founder explains his move to Facebook

The Sydney-based co-founder of Google Maps has spoken for the first time about his decision to jump ship to Facebook. Mr Rasmussen announced late last week he would make the move to Facebook after six years at Google’s Australian offices.

In 2003, the 34-year-old co-founded mapping startup "Where 2 Technologies" in Sydney with his brother Jens. A year later, the company was purchased by Google and its technologies used to form Google’s now ubiquitous online mapping service. Mr Rasmussen is also credited as the brains behind the online collaboration tool Google Wave, which was shut down by the search giant in August after user numbers failed to reach expected levels. 

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Rasmussen said a personal pitch from Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg helped secure his place at the social networking giant. At last count, Facebook has more than 500 million users worldwide. ‘‘I think if you were to ask me two or three years ago if Facebook was going to be this big, I wouldn't have picked it. And I have a great deal to learn there from Mark and his team,’’ he said.

As part of the move, Mr Rasmussen will relocate to San Francisco to take up his new position next month. The 34-year-old is far from the first Googler to switch allegiance, Facebook chief technology officer (CTO) Bret Taylor and platform manager, Carl Sjogreen are both ex-employees of the Big G. Asked to explain the reasoning behind his departure from Google, Mr Rasmussen said he was keen to work at a company with a smaller employee base - Facebook employs around 1700 people, compared to Google's 25,000 employees worldwide. A lucrative pay offer was also a factor, he said.

It's been widely reported that Google is scrambling to stem a flood of employees making the move to the house that Zuckerberg built, with one analyst suggesting up to 20% of Facebook employees are ex-Googlers.

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